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Canada Has Good News For Anyone Who Has Been Convicted Of Marijuana Possession

Canada has just become the largest nation in the world to legalize recreational cannabis use. In the U.S., there are nine states, plus Washington D.C., that have legalized recreational cannabis, but at a federal level, it is still considered an illegal schedule 1 drug. That federal legality has made it difficult for businesses, banks and investors to really get moving in the industry the way they want to.

More than that, the federal legality issue has had an effect on individual citizens. People who live in now-legal states who have been convicted of cannabis possession are finding it difficult to have those convictions remedied. Thousands remain labeled as criminals, continue to sit behind bars, and continue to struggle with employment and housing after release because of these convictions. Several groups are working to address this issue — but that takes time.

Canada has learned from these lessons, though, and made an incredible announcement shortly after legalization. The Canadian government will be providing a legal pathway for citizens convicted of simple possession. This pathway is designed to help these citizens to have their convictions pardoned and their criminal records erased. Once enacted, there will be no fees or waiting period for those who have already completed their sentence.

Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale, held a press conference where he said: 

Individuals who previously acquired criminal records for simple possession of cannabis should be allowed to shed the burden and the stigma of that record. This will eliminate what are disproportionate consequences and break down barriers which could mean greater access to job opportunities and education, housing, and even the ability to simply volunteer for a charity in your community.

 

According to research, dealing with these sorts of nonviolent offenses in this way actually helps increase public safety and overall quality in the community. These sorts of convictions prevent people from accessing the opportunities they could have otherwise. When those barriers are removed, citizens are shown to be more active in their communities, contribute more, and achieve at higher levels. Long story short, it’s not just the individual’s life that improves — the entire community and economy benefit.

Goodale echoed that sentiment in his press conference when he stated: 

As a general principle removing the stigma of a criminal record for people who have served their sentence and then shown themselves to be law abiding citizens, enhances public safety for all Canadians.

 

There is no timeline for this plan as of yet. Goodale states that more details will emerge in “the coming weeks and months.”

News hit Twitter hard. 

 

H/T: Twitter, Buzzfeed News, Washington Post

Written by Erica Diaz

Erica is the consummate cool-kid. She’s so cool that she’s been talked about in magazines, on blogs and on the radio after losing her left eye because of a piece of glitter. She is still actively mourning the passing of Prince and hopes to one day do an all-iguana remake of Graffiti Bridge since iguanas are plentiful near her home in South Florida. She has yet to find one that can really nail the “ahhhyayayeaheaheah” that Tevin Campbell does in Round and Round, and everyone knows the music is the important part of any Prince film. She’s a mother, singer, writer and (if the internet is to be believed - which we all know it is) a Nigerian socialite mid-ranking member of the Illuminati. She prides herself on being the most popular one-eyed rock star under 5 ft tall in pretty much any room she walks into.