A group of advocates are traveling across Canada, campaigning to have cannabis convictions completely removed from criminal records. If successful, the campaign could offer a fresh start for roughly 400,000 Canadians that have convictions for simple cannabis possession on their records.
When Canada moved to legalize recreational marijuana last year, the federal government announced they would also be establishing a process for people to have their minor cannabis convictions pardoned. And while the federal government is finalizing the details of their program, some advocates are saying pardons aren't enough.
"Obviously, they're making good strides," David Duarte said of the federal government. "And we're definitely aligned with what they're trying to do, but we try to push it one step further."
Duarte is the experiential event manager with DOJA—a BC-based cannabis company that has partnered with lobbying group Cannabis Amnesty on a project they're calling 'The Pardon Truck.' The truck will be traveling across the country, asking people to sign a petition for complete expungement of cannabis crimes as opposed to pardons.
There can be a big difference between a pardon and full expungement for people carrying minor cannabis offenses on their records, said Duarte. A person who receives a pardon has their conviction forgiven, but the incident will remain on their record. An expungement completely removes the conviction from their record. Even with a pardon, doing things like getting a job can continue to be difficult.
"It can be embarrassing to tell family and friends that you have this on the record, so we're really trying to help all those people move forward with their life and get that behind them," Duarte told CBC News.
People interested in supporting the cause can keep an eye out for the Pardon Truck to reach their city. The truck comes to Edmonton next weekend and will be in Ontario by April 20. Canadians can also get information and sign the petition online.