Canadians with a criminal record for simple possession of cannabis can now apply for a pardon for free.
“Starting today, individuals who were disproportionately impacted by cannabis laws of the past, including visible minorities, Indigenous people, and those in our most vulnerable neighbourhoods can finally shed the burden and stigma of that criminal record and have the ability to move forward positively in their lives,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a news release Thursday morning.
Bill C-93, which passed in the Senate in June, gets rid of the $631 fee to apply for a pardon and remove the usual five-year waiting period after a conviction before an application will be accepted.
Applicants will be eligible to use the new process even if they have outstanding fines or surcharges associated with their conviction, as long as they have completed the rest of their sentence, the federal government said.
An estimated 250,000 Canadians have some form of cannabis possession conviction. Before cannabis was legalized in October 2018, simple possession was punishable by a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.