The legalization of cannabis is a turning point for Canada. Legalization sends a positive message to Canadians and the rest of the world that it’s time to move away from the ineffective and harmful war on drugs.
In spite of this leap forward, many Canadians are left behind. Decades of cannabis prohibition have saddled hundreds of thousands of Canadians with criminal convictions for non-violent, minor cannabis offences. Decades of unfair and unequal enforcement of cannabis laws has meant that marginalized and racialized Canadians have been disproportionately burdened by cannabis convictions. For example, Black Torontonians are three times as likely to be arrested for simple possession of marijuana than White Torontonians despite equal rates of use.
These convictions prevent people from travelling to the United States, volunteering, and finding meaningful employment. Under the proposed Cannabis Act, past convictions will also prevent many Canadians from participating in the country’s growing legal cannabis economy. In short, many people’s lives will continue to be torn apart because of these minor offences.
Cannabis Amnesty’s PARDON Truck is currently visiting five major cities in hopes of garnering 10,000 signatures in support of having minor cannabis records expunged. The Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty is a grassroots movement. It is run entirely by volunteers and funded by generous campaign contributions. To sign the petition and help support the campaign, visit the Cannabis Amnesty website.