Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the Fortune Global Forum in Toronto on Monday, October 15, 2018. With just hours to go before pot is legal in Canada, Trudeau says Canadian parents should be talking to their kids about the drug. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Feds eyeing options to expedite pardons for minor pot convictions

Internal discussions have focused on an application-based process for speeding up pot pardons

People convicted of pot possession could soon be asked to fill out a simple form to speed up the process of obtaining a criminal pardon as part of the government’s plan to address past cannabis crimes, federal officials say.

The government has already instituted a similar system for people convicted of consensual sexual activity with same-sex partners over the decades.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has faced pressure to address the pot pardon issue, including within his own caucus, due to the effect of possession charges on marginalized Canadians.

NDP justice critic Murray Rankin recently put forward a private bill calling for expungement of criminal records for minor cannabis possession offences.

Until now, simple possession of marijuana has been punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail. Individuals are eligible to apply for a pardon through the Parole Board of Canada five years after the conviction is handed down.

RELATED: 5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

The waiting period and the cost of applying for a pardon, known as a record suspension, have proven difficult for some people saddled with records. A suspension doesn’t erase a record, but can make it easier to get a job, travel and generally contribute to society.

At a briefing held just hours before cannabis is legal in Canada, federal officials told reporters Tuesday that internal discussions have focused on an application-based process for speeding up pot pardons, instead of a blanket amnesty.

Much of the paperwork needed for a blanket amnesty resides in local courthouses out of the immediate and easy reach of the federal government and the Parole Board, officials say.

Trudeau said his government would soon focus on the issue.

“We’ll be talking about that in the coming days and weeks,” he said before heading into a cabinet meeting.

As of Tuesday the drug was illegal, and officials at the media briefing said any charges or cases before the courts could still be prosecuted after legalization. The vast majority of drug cases are handled by federal prosecutors, who could decide, in the public interest, not to prosecute, officials said.

The briefing was part of a last political push by the government to answer outstanding questions about a major social and policy shift that will see Canada become the first G7 country to legalize the use of recreational cannabis and possessions of small amounts.

RELATED: Postal services ready for looming wave of legal cannabis deliveries

Officials, who spoke on condition they not be identified by name, quietly admitted they are getting a lot of questions — from how Health Canada will handle complaints, to public awareness campaigns, to roadside impaired driving tests.

As one official put it, they don’t expect the questions to end and foresee bumps along the road after legalization.

Trudeau told reporters that parents will play a role in talking to their kids about the drug and repeated his oft-stated view that a regulated market for marijuana — a pillar of his 2015 election campaign — will keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian kids and combat the flourishing black market.

Canadians 18 or 19, depending on the province or territory, will be able to buy and use cannabis legally on Wednesday — a drug Trudeau has admitted to using while it was illegal.

Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair said the Liberals have been working closely with provinces and territories to strike the right balance on regulations to undercut the illegal market.

“We will do what is necessary to ensure that kids don’t have access to this drug and that we work collectively together to displace that (illegal market).”

Jordan Press and Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

First annual Alumni Breakfast celebrates continued excellence in Central Alberta

Three guest speakers will chat about the Women of Excellence

Vigil held for hundreds of transgender victims killed in 2018

Nov. 20th marks the Transgender Day of Remembrance

Red Deer City Council approved approves $121 million capital budget this evening

Budget focuses on sustainability and preparing for future growth

Code of conduct needed after Curling Classic debacle, says Red Deer Curling Manager

Wade Thurber says code of conduct will help organizers in the future if another incident occurs

Notre Dame students wear blue to support National Child Day

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre chosen as recipient of monies raised for Grad Service Project

VIDEO: Shoppers like self-checkout lanes at the grocery store, survey suggests

Grocery Experience National Survey Report suggests most grocery shoppers spend 32 minutes per visit

$90,000 pen from space created by B.C man

The Space pen is made from a meteorite

B.C. woman fined $2,300 for speeding

Clocked going 215 km/hr

South Korean named Interpol president in blow to Russia

South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang was elected as Interpol’s president edging out a longtime veteran of Russia’s security services.

E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce sickens 18 people in Ontario, Quebec

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it’s working with U.S. authorities to determine the source of the romaine lettuce those who got ill were exposed to.

Trump defies calls to punish crown prince for writer’s death

The U.S. earlier sanctioned 17 Saudi officials suspected of being responsible for or complicit in the Oct. 2 killing, but members of Congress have called for harsher actions, including cancelling arms sales.

British, EU leaders to meet as Brexit deadline looms

The U.K. and the European Union agreed last week on a 585-page document sealing the terms of Britain’s departure.

Richard Oland was killed ‘in a rage,’ prosecutor tells son’s murder trial

The verdict from Oland’s 2015 murder trial was set aside on appeal in 2016. Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Most Read