On October 4, 2018, New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Murray Rankin tabled a private member’s bill in the Canadian House of Commons that, if passed, will establish a procedure whereby certain cannabis-related convictions will be expunged and the corresponding criminal records destroyed.
Bill C-415, the Expungement of Certain Cannabis-related Convictions Act, would give the Parole Board of Canada (the “Board“) the power to expunge convictions for a variety of cannabis-related offences. In particular, any conviction for the possession of cannabis (or its derivatives) would be eligible to be expunged, provided that the conviction in question would not constitute another offence under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (“CDSA“) or any other Federal Act of Parliament at the time that the application for expungement is made. The legislation also allows other offences to be designated by the government which would be eligible to be expunged as well.
The Board would be obligated to order expungement if there is no evidence that the activity in respect of which the application for expungement is made is prohibited under the CDSA or any other Act of Parliament at the time of the application.
Under the proposed legislation, if the Board orders expungement of a conviction, the person convicted of the offence is deemed never to have been charged with, and convicted of, that offence. In addition, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and any federal department or agency that hold records of the conviction would be obligated to destroy or remove any judicial record of the conviction in question.
Proponents of the bill, including Mr. Rankin and Annamaria Enenajor, the campaign director for Cannabis Amnesty, hope the Liberal Government will run with the bill and ensure that it gets passed.