Michel Rathwell

Canadian Lawmaker Calls for Cannabis Expungements

Canadian lawmaker Murray Rankin, an MP with the New Democratic Party from Victoria, intends to bring forward a bill that would expunge the minor cannabis convictions of hundreds of thousands of Canadians, Global News reports.

Rankin argues that it’s unfair to legalize cannabis without also amending the criminal status of those who were penalized during the plant’s prohibition.

“I think the government of Canada, when they brought in their legalization of cannabis bill, should have included, as California and other places did, the impact on people who already have a criminal record for what will be by definition no longer a crime after Oct. 17. People tell me they can’t coach their kids’ soccer team or chaperone a school trip all because they have [a] criminal record for possession of a small level of cannabis.” — Victoria MP Murray Rankin (NDP), via Global News

Rankin’s legislation would eliminate criminal records for anyone convicted of nonviolent, personal possession of cannabis. According to advocacy group Cannabis Amnesty, there are at least 500,000 Canadians who live with criminal convictions for simple cannabis possession or use.

Annamaria Enenajor, campaign director for Cannabis Amnesty, appeared with Rankin on Parliament Hill on Wednesday to advocate for the proposal.

“These are Canadians who have been barred from employment of their choice, volunteer opportunities, and from other opportunities where a screening or background check would have identified cannabis possession on their record,” Enenajor told Global News. “We believe these Canadians deserve a second chance.”

According to Rankin, the proposal likely won’t be debated until after October 17 — when Canada’s legalization law takes full effect.

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