Pot pardon legislation coming soon: Goodale

Canadians will soon have a better sense of how the Liberals' plan to speed up and lower the cost of some marijuana-related pardons will work.

Bill would provide 'no-cost, expedited pardons for simple possession'

Last year the Liberal government announced plans to waive fees and cut the waiting time on applications for pardons for simple cannabis possession convictions. (Ben Nelms/Reuters)

Canadians will soon have a better sense of how the Liberals' plan to speed up and lower the cost of certain marijuana-related pardons will work.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tweeted Wednesday that he intends to give notice to introduce "a bill to provide no-cost, expedited pardons for simple possession of cannabis," following up on promise made in October.

According to parliamentary procedure, a member must give 48 hours written notice before introducing legislation in the House of Commons.

A spokesperson for the minister said that means that bill could be tabled as early as Friday. 

The Liberal government first signalled its plans to waive the fee and waiting period for Canadians seeking a pardon for a past conviction for simple pot possession the day recreational marijuana was legalized last year.

As it stands, the fee for normal record suspensions is $631. The waiting period to apply is usually five years for a summary offence and 10 years for an indictable offence.

According to a 2014 study, more than 500,000 Canadians have a criminal record for having pot on their person.

Goodale has previously said the bill would "shed the burden and stigma" and break down barriers to jobs, education, housing or volunteer work.

However, the bill has already received criticism from the NDP.

A record suspension does not erase the fact that a person was convicted of a crime, but keeps the record separate from other criminal records.

The NDP has been calling for the expungement of criminal records, which would erase the criminal conviction entirely.


Catharine Tunney is a reporter with CBC's Parliament Hill bureau, where she covers national security and the RCMP. She worked previously for CBC in Nova Scotia. You can reach her at catharine.tunney@cbc.ca