Sharon McCutcheon

Just 44 Canadians Have Had Cannabis Records Expunged Since Legalization

Nearly one full year after cannabis was legalized federally in Canada, only 77 people have applied to have cannabis charges expunged from their background and just 44 have been successfully pardoned.

Full story after the jump.

Only 77 people have applied to have their cannabis charges expunged in Canada and just 44 have been successfully pardoned, according to a Global News report. Some 250,000 Canadians are believed to have a low-level possession charge in the nation but some were charged under a generic drug possession charge and it’s unknown whether the offense is specific to cannabis.

The government has launched a website to help people streamline the expungement process which outlines four or five steps to getting rid of a record; military veterans have the added step of obtaining their conduct sheet. Everyone who applies must also get a copy of the record, which often must be obtained in person and might be hard to find if the case is several years old. Applicants must also have their fingerprints taken and send them to Ottawa, which Toronto lawyer Caryma Sa’d said could cost “at least a couple hundred dollars.”

“Assuming their situation transpired before records are as digitized as they are now, it’s possible that a pardon could actually put them on the electronic map so when they’re crossing the border, this thing that otherwise would have been buried in the back of a file cabinet somewhere is now present, and it’s evident that there was a pardon for something, where otherwise it may not have had consequences.” – Sa’d, to Global News

Parole Board spokesperson Iulia Pescarus Popa indicated that the rest of the applications “are either under investigation” or were filed “incomplete or ineligible.” Individuals with a criminal record for other offenses are not eligible under the program. 

Canada’s federal legalization of cannabis did not include broad expungement provisions.

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