“To my understanding no one is actually sitting in jail as a result of a conviction for possession of cannabis,” he said. But some Canadians might still have community service obligations or other requirements connected to a conviction, he added.
“In that case we wouldn’t interfere in that regard,” Lametti said. “Those people will have to finish their sentence.”
A pardon, or record suspension, means the criminal record in question is kept strictly separate from other records and that it may be disclosed only in certain circumstances.
A pardoned conviction will not appear on the Canadian Police Information Centre — or CPIC — database, which is used by United States border officials. But a pardon will not erase information about Canadians already in U.S.-controlled databases, meaning people with criminal records for cannabis possession could still face travel problems.
“Any sovereign country has the right to control who