Canada is facing mounting pressure to grant mass pardons for weed possession

Glancing at the faces of executives at the growing number of legal cannabis businesses in Canada or those speaking on industry panels, Carolyn Tinglin is hard-pressed to find many who look like her.

“I’m just not seeing black women or black men involved in this space or being seen as experts,” Tinglin said over the phone from Chilliwack, British Columbia. As president of the National Association of Cannabis Professionals — a non-profit for cannabis health consultants with a predominately black female board — she’s taken on advocating for the inclusion of people of colour in the country’s future recreational cannabis market expected to be worth billions. 

It’s just one example of the pressure building across the country urging the federal government to proactively grant pardons for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians convicted of simple marijuana possession — something that will be legal later this year. Currently, those with criminal records may apply to the Parole Board of Canada for a pardon, officially known as a record suspension, five years after the completion of their sentence, at a cost of more than $600.

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