The federal government will be looking at the possibility of pardons for people who carry criminal records for marijuana possession after the new law comes into force, according to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
On CTV’s Question Period, Goodale said looking at pardons is something the government “will be pursuing once the law changes.”
The government’s legislation to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana officially passed Parliament last week, marking a historic moment in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on June 20 that the new regime will come into force on Oct. 17.
In the days following legalization several members of cabinet made a point of cautioning Canadians that the current prohibition and laws about cannabis will remain in place until the date of implementation, and urged people to follow the law until then.
“At the moment, the law has not changed. The existing law that has existed for 100 years is still in place. When that law changes… then the government will turn its attention to those issues,” Goodale said.
“Making sure that it is fair, both in current terms and historic terms, to everyone.”
According to Statistics Canada, 17,733 people were charged with marijuana possession in 2016, though overall the number of police-reported marijuana offences declined for the fifth year in a row.
Throughout the march towards recreational access, pot-proponents and the federal NDP have been pushing for full decriminalization, with Leader Jagmeet Singh calling it “completely unacceptable” that the government was not moving forward with a more progressive approach to legalization.
Under the new law adults in Canada will be able to legally possess and use small amounts of recreational cannabis. Bill C-45 sets out parameters around the production, possession, safety standards, distribution, and sale of the drug. It also creates new Criminal Code offences for selling marijuana to minors. The proposed federal law spells out that it will be illegal for anyone younger than 18 to buy pot, but allows for provinces and territories to set a higher minimum age.