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A push today to change the way the federal government plans to deal with people who have criminal records for possessing small amounts of cannabis, six months after legalization.
PARDON is a campaign making its way across the country to raise awareness and collect signatures. Saturday it stopped in Winnipeg.
It was formed by a B.C. cannabis producer and Cannabis Amnesty, a group of lawyers, activists, and entrepreneurs.
“There’s about 500 000 Canadians who have kind of been left behind by legalization so we want so want to be their voice and help them fight this,” said spokesperson David Duarte
In March, Ottawa created bill c-93, a no cost option for people with minor cannabis convictions to apply for a record suspension.
A conviction can create challenges for people wanting to find a place to live, land a job or travel.
The legislation doesn’t destroy the documents or expunge a person’s record.
Winnipegger Kurtis Gibson signed the petition. He doesn’t think that’s fair.
“I think it just makes sense. We’re not talking about traffickers or anything like that,” he said outside the PARDON truck.
Katharina Maier studies punishment and prisoners reentering society.
Maier said racialized communities have been disproportionately affected by drug law, and it’s important wrongs are made right.
She believes the legislation, is a good first move because it waives the $631 record suspension fee, and reduces the waiting period to get approved, which can be several years.
Another positive she said, the criminal record is set aside from the Canadian Police Information Centre database.
But it’s still accessible to other government agencies.
“It also means subsequent governments could for example, restore a person’s criminal record, the Parole Board of Canada who makes the decision whether a person’s record is suspended or not, can also restore a person’s criminal record, so there’s some uncertainty,” said Maier, a criminal justice assistant professor at the University of Winnipeg
Under the proposed legislation crossing the also border remains a concern.
Maier said even when records are destroyed, the process for entering other countries is not clear cut.
PARDON spokesperson David Duarte agreed that though the legislation doesn’t go far enough, bill c-93 is still a step in the right direction, and hopes Ottawa passes it before the House of Commons breaks for the summer.
The campaign has made stops in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, and heads to Toronto next.
As Saturday afternoon, they’ve collected close to 7,000 signatures.
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