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New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling for the federal government to expunge the criminal records of all Canadians convicted of nonviolent weed crimes.Singh, alongside his party’s Justice Critic Murray Rankin and lawyer Annamaria Enenajor, announced the NDP will soon be tabling a bill calling for weed amnesty.“The legislation asks to delete the record for anyone that’s faced possession of a personal nature,” Singh told reporters on Parliament Hill earlier today.
Rankin said he’s hoping the government will take the bill and “run with it.” He mentioned how black and Indigenous people in Canada are overpoliced for pot possession.“It’s a question of justice, and not a partisan issue,” he said.The federal government hasn’t made any moves towards granting Canadians with weed records amnesty, except to say that it will consider the matter after legalization. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also recently signed a US declaration to renew the War on Drugs, which has a deeply racist history.In a statement to VICE, Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, assistant sociology professor at the University of Toronto and director of research for Cannabis Amnesty, said the bill can’t come soon enough.“I’m excited about the opportunities that legalization presents us with, but I think that it is vitally important that we do not forget about all of the people whose lives have been damaged by cannabis prohibition. Cannabis amnesty is a first step forward in repairing these harms.”In April, a VICE News investigation revealed Canadian police arrest black and Indigenous people for pot possession at a higher rate than white people, despite the fact that there is no difference in pot consumption amongst the groups.Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.Sign up for the VICE Canada Newsletter to get the best of VICE Canada delivered to your inbox.