British Columbia

Victoria MP calls on Ottawa to expunge records for Canadians with personal-use pot convictions

A B.C. MP is calling on the federal government to grant a fresh start to those who have been charged with carrying a small amount of marijuana for personal use — something that will be legal in less than two weeks.

Murray Rankin tabling bill Thursday calling for clean slates

NDP MP Murray Rankin will table his private member's bill to expunge cannabis-related convictions in Ottawa on Thursday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

A B.C. MP is calling on the federal government to grant a fresh start to those who have been charged with carrying a small amount of marijuana for personal use — something that will be legal in less than two weeks.

Murray Rankin is introducing a private members bill Thursday that would see convictions for carrying less than 30 grams of marijuana expunged from a person's criminal record.

Carrying that amount of pot for personal, non-violent use will be legal after Oct. 17.

Rankin, MP for Victoria, said a clean slate can be life-changing.

"I've had calls from a mother in Saskatoon who says her child is unable to coach a soccer team. I've heard people who can not rent apartments," said Rankin, who is also the NDP's justice critic.

"Our goal is to take marginalized people and others who have a real difficulty in the workforce and in renting apartments and take away the obstacle, so they can climb the ladder like the rest of us."

Roughly 30 grams of cannabis — the legal limit for possession as of Oct. 17 — rolled into joints. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Long, costly process

Canadians currently have to wait five to 10 years and pay more than $630 to apply for a pardon. Even then, pardons don't completely clear one's record.

If the bill passes, Rankin said he hopes the new applications would be free, simpler to complete and lead to complete removal of charges. 

He said more than 500,000 Canadians have a criminal record for cannabis possession.

"It shouldn't be a continuing burden for people who have a record for activities which will be perfectly legal after Oct. 17," Rankin said.

Convictions for trafficking and other drug-related crimes would not be affected by the bill.

A B.C. MP is calling on the federal government to grant a fresh start to those who have been charged with carrying a small amount of marijuana for personal use - something that will be legal in 13 days. 7:34

With files from Megan Batchelor and The Early Edition

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