It has been nearly four years since Canada has made cannabis legal on a federal level. At the beginning of 2018, Canadians with cannabis possession charges became eligible for a cannabis pardon.
Applying for a cannabis record suspension requires filling out paperwork, fingerprints, and a time. Covid-19 has slowed down the Parole Board of Canada’s ability to process cannabis record suspension.
You don’t need a third-party or a lawyer to apply for a cannabis record suspension. All you need to do is apply directly through the Parole Board of Canada (PBC).
Follow the step-by-step instructions in the application guide, pay any fees associated with the application (fingerprinting etc.), and send it off to be reviewed.
Pro tip: Making false statements or concealing information may result in your application being denied. Answer all questions completely and honestly.
Before you begin you should check to see if you’re eligible for a cannabis record suspension.
Who is Eligible for a Cannabis Record Suspension?
If you were an adult in Canada and you’ve received a conviction of simple possession of cannabis, you can apply for a cannabis record suspension.
Simple possession is the only cannabis charge that is eligible for cannabis record suspension.
Meaning, if you’re an adult and you were charged with possession of cannabis for personal use, you can apply. Trafficking and other charges have to go through the standard pardon application process.
If you have fines or victim surcharges for cannabis possession, you are eligible to apply as well, but you must have fulfilled all other conditions of your sentence (like probation).
Even if you’re not a Canadian citizen and you only have a simple possession charge, you can apply.
How Many Canadians have Received a Cannabis Record Suspension?
As of March of this year, only 395 applications have been granted since the program’s start in August of 2019.
According to the Parole Board of Canada:
- Less than 400 people have applied and received a cannabis record pardon.
- Roughly 250 applications have been denied due to being incomplete or ineligible.
Even before the cannabis record suspension rolled out, Canadains have always been able to apply for a pardon. A typical pardon requires a $644 fee along with meeting the requirements.
Generally, the less-serious the crime, the faster you are eligible for a pardon.
Unlike the typical pardon process, the cannabis record suspension pardon has no fee and there is no waiting period required.
Don’t confuse that with actual waiting time for the application to be processed and approved or denied.
Cannabis offenses like trafficking are eligible through the cannabis record suspension program.
What are the Benefits of Applying for a Cannabis Record Suspension?
Even a small criminal record like cannabis possession can affect your life. Traveling outside of Canada becomes difficult- especially going to the U.S.
There are certain employment and volunteer opportunities that may be impeded by having a criminal record.
A conviction may be problematic with family law matters. It may seem like a parent with a conviction is an unfit parent who is irresponsible and shouldn’t have custody.
If you have a conviction that is not pardoned on your record, the likelihood of you being eligible to work in the cannabis industry is moot.
On the retail cannabis application it asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime (even something as small as simple possession).
Cannabis Criminal Record Suspension: In a Nutshell
What you really need to know about applying for a cannabis record suspension is that it is on you (the applicant) to prove what is true.
Meaning, you need to provide the required court documents and anything else the PBC requires.
The delay in processing applications is due to several factors like Covid-19 and identifying original court documents.
A lot of simple possession of cannabis charges were filed under a general charge of possession.
Possession could mean cocaine or heroin as well.
Locating the original court documents to ensure it is only a cannabis possession charge is one hurdle that is slowing down the application time.
If you think you are eligible, send in your application for a cannabis possession pardon- what do you have to lose?
What are your thoughts on the application process?
We want to hear from you! Leave a comment below or reach out on our social channels.
And remember, stay lifted!
About the author: Heather Burton
Heather lives with her husband and two children in beautiful British Columbia. Her passion has always been to enhance the lives of others by helping them reach their business goals.
Content management is her specialty, and writing is what she does best. Working specifically in the cannabis market, Heather strives to help dispensaries, patients, doctors, manufacturers and recreational users by giving them the voice they need. When she is not writing, you can find her anywhere outdoors and away from the screen.