VIDEO: Pot Pardons Won't Change Issues Crossing into U.S.

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A win for those living with simple cannabis possession charges in Canada, but not necessarily for Canadians who still want to cross into the United States.

Bill C-93 was tabled in March allowing people convicted of cannabis possession to apply online for a criminal pardon free of charge — the federal legislation rolled out Thursday.

Anyone with a criminal record for simple pot possession will no longer be charged a $631 application fee and won't have to wait five-years to seek a pardon, but people living with a conviction who want to cross the border can't celebrate yet, according to immigration lawyer Eddie Kadri.

"Unfortunately U.S. laws still prevails on this. If you have a criminal conviction in Canada and it's of such a nature that requires you to have a waiver to enter the United States you're going to continue to require that waiver in order to be lawfully admitted into the United States," says Kadri. "I strongly advise anyone who has a conviction, who is going to go through this process to still seek the proper advice because U.S. law has not changed on this, so your circumstances of entering United States are going to remain the same."

He tells CTV Windsor it's a step in the right direction.

"I think there's more that can be done to alleviate the effects of previous convictions now that marijuana is legalized here in Canada," says Kadri, who adds conviction information already in U.S. databases will remain regardless of a pardon. "I think it's a step in the right direction but it's important that it's just the first step."

People convicted of simple possession could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine before legalization hit last October.

 

— With files from CTV Windsor