One of Prime Minister Trudeau’s major platforms in the run-up to the election was his promise to produce a framework for the legalization of marijuana in Canada. In his words, he wanted to “legalize, regulate, and restrict access” and “to keep it out of the hands of children and the profits out of the hands of criminals”. The recent announcement that the Liberals plan to introduce legislation to legalise recreational usage of marijuana by 2018 has created quite a stir, as well as raised a number of questions regarding its usage and sale.

Another major issue is how Canada will deal with those who have a criminal record due to drug charges. A criminal record will follow you for the rest of your life, so we understand why so many Canadians want to have theirs pardoned. Here’s what the new legislation could mean for B.C, a province known throughout the country as one of the most tolerant with regards to marijuana.

Marijuana is still a criminal offence

Although B.C, especially in and around Vancouver, is well known for being tolerant toward the consumption of medicinal marijuana and even has lounges where people consume it openly, it is important to remember that possessing it alone is cause enough for a criminal charge. Even with this new announcement, until the laws are actually passed, marijuana is still illegal unless it has been approved as a medicinal treatment. A drug charge will still show on your record and make it difficult to gain employment, educational opportunities, and more.

British Columbia’s tolerant views

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a province where the majority of residents polled admitted to trying the drug at least once in their lives, B.C has the highest rate of support for the legalization of marijuana at 61%. This is in comparison to the 53% national average. It should come as no surprise that Vancouver was home to the nation’s first legal retail marijuana stores. For British Columbians, this development means the current status quo will have to become compliant with federal government regulations.

What it means for your criminal record

Although the government has proposed legislation in regards to the legalization of the substance, there is little news on how it will affect those with a criminal record due to drug offences. When asked if the Liberals would promise legislation pardoning those with criminal offences, Trudeau sidestepped the issue and was non-committal. What we do know is that you’ll have to be 18 to purchase marijuana, and provinces will be free to interpret the laws as they see fit.

B.C is one of the most liberal provinces in the country in terms of the marijuana-related laws, and this new development out of Ottawa only signals more changes coming in the very near future; however, it’s important to remember that the current laws are still in place until the new ones are set in stone, meaning that possession of marijuana is still a criminal offence. A criminal record will alter your life, and there’s no guarantee of a pardon. Always consult an experienced defense attorney if you’ve been charged with a crime.

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