Canada's new cannabis laws will move the country away from the long, disastrous era of marijuana prohibition. But one holdover from that dark past remains: cannabis convictions.
The Cannabis Act did not include any measures to pardon current cannabis offenders or expunge criminal records of cannabis-related convictions. But Henry Rollins hopes to change that. The legendary punk rocker says if he had 30 seconds of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's time, he would beg Trudeau to show mercy to cannabis offenders.
"I would flat out beg him to do it," Rollins told Civilized.
He added that while cannabis advocates celebrate the end of prohibition, seeing legalization become law will be a painful experience for those who are still doing time.
"Imagine being someone that was put in prison for something that’s no longer illegal. These are nonviolent crimes. I don’t necessarily think everyone that goes to jail is an angel, but can they be rehabilitated? Sure."
Canada appears to be following the model of American states like Colorado, which focused on repealing prohibition first, then explored pardons later on. But Rollins also doesn't see the point of prolonging a prisoner's suffering.
"Why keep that person in jail for another eight years for something you can do now? I think it comes down to a human decency and moral issue. Things change. Can you change with the change, or are you going to look like some really bad anachronism?"
And since he won't get a chance to plead the prisoners' case with the prime minister in person, Rollins is challenging Trudeau to justify maintaining this archaic relic of prohibition.
"I would love to see Prime Minister Trudeau defend that point," Rollins told Civilized. "I think he’s too smart to be able to BS his way through that in primetime. As far as retroactive emancipation goes, there’s no way they haven’t thought about it. There’s someone in an office that is looking at what the blowback would be for another term, who would bite back, how many donors they would lose, etc. I just don’t see Trudeau being able to justify keeping these people in prison at taxpayers’ expense. Life is short. Do you really want to squash people that hard?"
To hear more of Henry Rollins' thoughts on cannabis, check out the International Cannabis Business Conference in Vancouver (June 24-25), where Rollins will deliver the keynote address. To buy tickets, click here.