Canada has legalized marijuana nationwide. This makes Canada the second country in the world to legalize the drug for recreational use. The Cannabis Act, officially known as Bill C45, was introduced in April. The bill finally passed last week. Now Canada joins only Uruguay as countries that have ended marijuana prohibition.
Officials were stern about the language of the bill and told reporters that there would be no amnesty for those with criminal records for a drug that would soon be legal. Many officials are warning the public that the drug will not be legal until October of 2018. Any possession, sale or use of the drug until the legalize date will be prosecuted under current laws.
But the Liberal Party is currently in control and leaders seem to be leaning towards amnesty for those with marijuana criminal records. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the party would look into avenues for amnesty after July 1. This could be good news for thousands of Canadians with a criminal record for possession of a drug that will soon be legal.
There are serious consequences for a drug possession record. Hurdles exist for employment and it makes international travel more difficult. Certain Asian countries bar those with a drug record altogether while entering the United States can be exponentially more difficult.
Unfortunately, there are logistical hurdles. Local police have never been forced to report the type of drug for a possession charge so automated amnesty is not an option. A human must sift through records which is a tall task. More than 17,000 people were charged with marijuana possession in 2016 alone.
Benjamin Diaz started working for Debate Report in 2017. Ben grew up in a small town in northern Ontario. He studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married his wife a year later. Benhas been a proud Torontonian for the past 10 years. He covers politics and the economy. Previously he wrote for CTV News and the Huffington Post Canada.