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

Nathan Cullen named Parliamentarian of the Year

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP won the top-title Nov. 5

VIDEO: Taking to the skies to protect moose in the Cariboo Chilcotin

Conservation Officer Service doubles patrols to oversee moose harvest

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Central Coast Regional District swears in new Board of Directors

There are three new faces representing our region and two returning directors

VIDEO: Black horse signals ‘sign of peace’ for Tsilhqot’in Nation

Justin Trudeau rides black horse provided by Cooper family

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

Most Read