Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the Fortune Global Forum in Toronto on Monday, October 15, 2018. With just hours to go before pot is legal in Canada, Trudeau says Canadian parents should be talking to their kids about the drug. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Feds eyeing options to expedite pardons for minor pot convictions

Internal discussions have focused on an application-based process for speeding up pot pardons

People convicted of pot possession could soon be asked to fill out a simple form to speed up the process of obtaining a criminal pardon as part of the government’s plan to address past cannabis crimes, federal officials say.

The government has already instituted a similar system for people convicted of consensual sexual activity with same-sex partners over the decades.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has faced pressure to address the pot pardon issue, including within his own caucus, due to the effect of possession charges on marginalized Canadians.

NDP justice critic Murray Rankin recently put forward a private bill calling for expungement of criminal records for minor cannabis possession offences.

Until now, simple possession of marijuana has been punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail. Individuals are eligible to apply for a pardon through the Parole Board of Canada five years after the conviction is handed down.

RELATED: 5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

The waiting period and the cost of applying for a pardon, known as a record suspension, have proven difficult for some people saddled with records. A suspension doesn’t erase a record, but can make it easier to get a job, travel and generally contribute to society.

At a briefing held just hours before cannabis is legal in Canada, federal officials told reporters Tuesday that internal discussions have focused on an application-based process for speeding up pot pardons, instead of a blanket amnesty.

Much of the paperwork needed for a blanket amnesty resides in local courthouses out of the immediate and easy reach of the federal government and the Parole Board, officials say.

Trudeau said his government would soon focus on the issue.

“We’ll be talking about that in the coming days and weeks,” he said before heading into a cabinet meeting.

As of Tuesday the drug was illegal, and officials at the media briefing said any charges or cases before the courts could still be prosecuted after legalization. The vast majority of drug cases are handled by federal prosecutors, who could decide, in the public interest, not to prosecute, officials said.

The briefing was part of a last political push by the government to answer outstanding questions about a major social and policy shift that will see Canada become the first G7 country to legalize the use of recreational cannabis and possessions of small amounts.

RELATED: Postal services ready for looming wave of legal cannabis deliveries

Officials, who spoke on condition they not be identified by name, quietly admitted they are getting a lot of questions — from how Health Canada will handle complaints, to public awareness campaigns, to roadside impaired driving tests.

As one official put it, they don’t expect the questions to end and foresee bumps along the road after legalization.

Trudeau told reporters that parents will play a role in talking to their kids about the drug and repeated his oft-stated view that a regulated market for marijuana — a pillar of his 2015 election campaign — will keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian kids and combat the flourishing black market.

Canadians 18 or 19, depending on the province or territory, will be able to buy and use cannabis legally on Wednesday — a drug Trudeau has admitted to using while it was illegal.

Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair said the Liberals have been working closely with provinces and territories to strike the right balance on regulations to undercut the illegal market.

“We will do what is necessary to ensure that kids don’t have access to this drug and that we work collectively together to displace that (illegal market).”

Jordan Press and Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lacombe Canadian Archery champion finishes 10th at worlds

Cameron Herbert has been a competitive archer for 10 years

Lacombe County: Do you have a gated property? Here’s what you need to know.

These gates are a deterrent for rural crime, they can also impede on emergency personnel

Lacombe Police Service joins North American rail-safety operation aimed at reducing preventable deaths and injuries on rail lines

Operation Clear Track aims to reduce the number of railway crossing and trespassing incident

WATCH: Enhanced Emergency Department opens at Lacombe Hospital

$3.1 million facility jointly funded by AHS, Lacombe Health Trust

Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate armed robbery

Wetaskiwin police seek identification of suspects

Blackfalds RCMP investigate fatal collision with cyclist on Highway 2

32-year-old male cyclist from Red Deer was pronounced dead at the scene

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re ‘stepping away’ from ice dancing

The pair thank fans for their support in an emotional message

Outspoken Imperial Oil CEO Rich Kruger stepping down later this year

Imperial Oil is about 70 per cent owned by Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp., since 2013

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Most Read