Canada to consider pardons for pot possession before legalisation

The bud of a cannabis plant is seen on plant inside the KannaSwiss GmbH greenhouse facility near Kerzers, Switzerland. (Bloomberg pic)

OTTAWA: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday his government will consider, after the recreational use of cannabis is legalised on October 17, pardoning persons convicted in the past of simple pot possession.

Pressed by reporters on this, Trudeau said: “Well, as we have said, we’ll look at that once the law has been changed. So from October 17, we will start looking at the best way to do it.”

His office said no details of what would be considered – whether a blanket amnesty or pardons on a case by case basis – were yet available.

Earlier, Minister Bill Blair, who is leading the government’s cannabis legalisation initiative, reminded that “until the law (prohibiting cannabis) is repealed and replaced with the new regulatory regime, it remains in effect.”

Trudeau himself admitted in 2013 to having smoked pot five or six times in his life, including at a dinner party with friends after being elected to parliament.

He has also said that his late brother Michel was facing marijuana possession charges for a “tiny amount” of pot before his death in an avalanche in 1998, and that this influenced his decision to propose legalising cannabis.

On Tuesday, the prime minister posted an old photo of the two brothers on Twitter to mark what would have been Michel’s 43rd birthday, writing: “I love you little brother.”