A majority of Canadians either support or somewhat support a pardon for those with a criminal record for cannabis possession, according to a new poll.
A new poll from The Globe and Mail/Nanos Research indicates that a majority of Canadians are in favor of offering pardons to those with a criminal record for marijuana possession. The Canadian federal government introduced legislation last month that will legalize adult use marijuana by July of next year.
The random survey of 1,000 Canadians asked participants whether in light of the government’s plan for legalization, they support giving a pardon to every person with a marijuana possession conviction. Sixty-two percent responded that they support or somewhat support pardoning individuals.
Last year, independent research nonprofit C.D. Howe Institute released a report encouraging the Canadian government to issue pardons for those convicted of possession, as those with offenses on their records face severe limitations on their abilities to travel and work.
“The federal government should consider pardoning individuals who have been convicted for illegal possession but who have otherwise not been convicted or charged for any other Criminal Code offense,” the report’s summary reads.
“If you have a criminal conviction, it automatically disqualifies you from a number of positions,” said Anindya Sen, University of Waterloo economics professor and author of the C.D. Howe Institute report. “That’s just economic waste. You have people on social assistance who could otherwise be employed and contribute to the economy.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who campaigned on marijuana legalization in 2015 and has been a driving force in ending prohibition in Canada, told Vice Canada in April that he recognizes the current system is unfair.
“We’ll take steps to look at what we can do for those folks who have criminal records for something that would no longer be criminal,” Trudeau told Vice Canada.
Still, despite the inevitability of marijuana legalization, there are no plans to issues any pardons, and so far the federal government continues to allow its law enforcement to charge civilians with simple possession. It’s been estimated that over 56,000 arrests for cannabis possession have been made since Trudeau took office.
Once Canada’s marijuana law does effect, Canadians aged 18 years or older will be able to legally buy and possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis and grow up to four plants at home.
The Globe and Mail/Nanos Research survey, conducted between April 29 and May 5 through direct phone calls and online, found that 8 percent of Canadians say they don’t currently use marijuana but plan to once it becomes legal. Twelve percent responded that they are current users and plan to continue using the same amount once the law takes effect.
The poll also found that 61 percent of Canadians are confident or somewhat confident that the federal government will be able to adequately test and monitor the strength and safety of marijuana. More than half of Canadians, or 55 percent, oppose or somewhat oppose legislation that would allow law enforcement to demand a breath sample without having reasonable suspicion.