Don Martin: Trust me, there's no pardon on pot in American eyes
Amid euphoric media coverage of the first Canadian to buy legal pot, the more interesting and ignored angle would be the last person charged with possession of cannabis in this country.
It was probably some lippy kid living on a city street who was busted in tandem with another minor offence.
But the record for that kid and 500,000 others with shared convictions will last far longer than the framed first cannabis purchase and receipt from a St. John’s pot shop.
What’s particularly concerning is that even the government admits pot possession is an offence which hits indigenous and black youth far harder than any middle or upper class suburban adult demographic.
That’s why the government was correct to promise free pardons by year’s end, although it’s worth a quibble on why they didn’t drop the enacting legislation on the first day of long-planned legalization.
Even so, there must be a reality check on what a pardon delivers.
This is not necessarily a forgiveness forever concept. It can be resurrected.
It does not erase your criminal record, but merely sets it aside.
And if you want that past indiscretion cleaned up to reduce the risk of being blocked at the U.S. border, dope in your documented history still means nope to U.S. entry.
Now I speak with some personal experience on this front. I was charged and discharged from a cannabis conviction way, way, way back in 1974.
I applied for a pardon only to be told by RCMP I didn’t have a record.
But try telling that to U.S. border guards. Three times they have almost blocked me from crossing the border and that supposedly erased charge was red-flagged by U.S. authorities when applying for a NEXUS card.
Trust me. There’s no pardon on pot in American eyes. Once busted, always guilty, even when the record in Canada is moved out of sight.
Of course, that’s the right of U.S. border enforcement. They enforce their rules.
But let this serve as a warning to Canadians who believe the cannabis flower is our proud new maple leaf and the rest of the world wants in.
American authorities have permanent memories when it comes to pot. That means the grass is a lot less welcoming on the far side of the border.
That’s the Last Word.