Area of Law: Criminal Records | Pardons & USA Waivers
Answer # 2159
Cannabis convictions and Record SuspensionsRegion: Ontario Answer # 2159
Record suspension for simple cannabis possession conviction
Cannabis is now legal in Canada. If you have a criminal conviction for a simple cannabis possession charge, you can now get a record suspension (previously called a Pardon) without having to wait for the eligibility period to pass. In addition, you will not have to pay the $631 federal record suspension application fee. However, other fees, such as police and court fees still apply.
You do not have to be a Canadian citizen or a resident of Canada to be eligible, as long as the conviction was in Canada. To qualify for the cannabis record suspension, you must:
- have been convicted in Canada,
- have only one conviction for simple possession of cannabis, and
- have completed your sentence, such as probation (you may still apply even if you have outstanding court fines or surcharges)
What is a simple possession of cannabis charge?
Simple possession refers to possession of 30 grams of cannabis or less for personal use.
What is a record suspension?
A record suspension applies only to convictions. A record suspension for cannabis does not erase the conviction, but it does keep the information separate from other criminal records in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database and it cannot be disclosed through a criminal records check except under certain conditions. For more information, refer to topic# 2170 Pardons and Record Suspensions.
How to apply for a record suspension
Cannabis record suspensions are granted by the Parole Board of Canada (PBC). Applications are available online. Applicants must provide the following documents and pay any associated fees:
- Copy of RCMP criminal record showing the simple cannabis conviction, (fingerprints must be taken)
- Local Police Records Check(s) for: the city where you have lived during the last 5 years (if you lived in that place for 3 months or more).
- Military Conduct Sheet if a current or past member of the Canadian Forces
- Court documents
Court documents are not required if the RCMP report or police check clearly state that the conviction was for simple possession of cannabis, and the sentence only consisted of a fine or victim surcharge. Completed applications, along with any required additional records or documents must be mailed to the PBC.
What if you were not convicted?
Even if you were not convicted, as long as you were charged with a criminal offence and your fingerprints were taken, you have some type of criminal record. If you were not convicted of your possession charge, but were given a discharge, or were not found guilty (e.g. your case was withdrawn, dismissed or you were acquitted) you do not require a record suspension. In such cases, you must remove your possession charge by a police file destruction and/or a purge.
What if you were convicted of other offences involving cannabis?
Unless you were convicted of a simple cannabis possession charge, you will not be eligible for the expedited record suspension. However, you can still apply for a record suspension in the usual manner.
The main differences in the process are that:
- you will have to wait until the required eligibility period has passed,
- you will have to pay the $631 PBC application fee.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.
You now haveoptions: