Gov't weighing 'all legal implications' of pardons for pot possession
In this file photo, a young man smokes a marijuana joint during a rally in downtown Vancouver. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Published Friday, January 12, 2018 3:00PM EST
OTTAWA – Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the federal government is "weighing all of the legal implications" of pardoning people who have been convicted of pot possession, prior to marijuana's legalization this summer.
"We're weighing all of the legal implications to make sure we fully understand all of the dimensions of this," Goodale said at the Liberal cabinet meeting in London, Ont. on Friday.
Prompted by reporters' inquiries about considering pardons for simple marijuana possession, Goodale said the analysis is underway to look at the potential ways these cases could be handled. Though, he offered no certainty on where the government will come down on the matter.
"That work is ongoing," Goodale said. "We're in the midst of a major change here, and I know there’s a real anxiety for a bit of a play-by-play commentary, but I think the responsible thing is to do the analysis, seek where the unfairnesses are and take the appropriate steps to correct those problems, but you need to do it in an orderly way."
NDP and others have pushed for pardons, and decriminalization of simple possession ahead of legalized marijuana, but for now, Goodale emphasized that, until the legalized regime is in place, the current law and penalties stand.
The federal Liberals have set July 2018 as the deadline to legalize recreational marijuana. The legislation to implement the legal regime, Bill C-45, passed into the Senate in late November. It is currently at second reading stage in the Senate.
The House committee that studied it made some minor amendments to the law, and senators have already expressed intent to do a deeper dive on the potential implications of the new regime.
The bill, once passed, would allow adults in Canada to possess and use small amounts of recreational marijuana legally. It sets out the parameters around the production, possession, safety standards, distribution, and sale of marijuana. 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 is leaving it up to the provinces and territories to set a higher age.