I’m currently reading Gabor Maté’s In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts in which he writes about “close encounters with addiction,” having witnessed firsthand these accounts while working as a medical doctor in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver — a neighbourhood notorious for its sanctioning of drug use. Although I’m only a few chapters in, I immediately drew connections with his eye-opening insights and the current cannabis climate in Canada. Maté touches on the “war on drugs,” writing how decriminalization can benefit not only the user, but the society he or she resides in. He writes, “Can we imagine the progress we could achieve if a great proportion of the resources now poured Ito the toxic sinkholes of enforcement and incarceration were dedicated to prevention, harm reduction and treatment? That is the possibility.”

…one cannot make war on inanimate objects, only on human beings…

With legalization of marijuana just days away, it’s a hot topic across the nation. While many cannabis brands are focusing on the health and lifestyle benefits of regular use, one brand is taking a more political stance. DOJA has partnered with Cannabis Amnesty to help get minor cannabis convictions erased. Although Maté refers to harder drugs, his concerns about the war on drugs are just as relevant here. He argues “one cannot make war on inanimate objects, only on human beings. And the people the war is mostly waged upon are those who have been the most neglected and oppressed in childhood […and] are the most likely to succumb to substance addiction later in life. In our civilized times we are punishing and tormenting people for having suffered trauma.”

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Now, that may seem like a dramatic statement when it comes to recreational marijuana use, yet the core beliefs are reflected in how people who use have been and still are treated. As DOJA brings attention to, “More than 500,000 Canadian lives have been negatively impacted by decades of criminal convictions for non-violent, minor cannabis offences that soon will no longer be a crime, including challenges like renting a home, volunteering, and finding meaningful employment.”  And somehow these records may not be expunged.

In order to raise more awareness of this issue, the leading BC-based cannabis producer has created PARDON, a line of clothing and accessories. Full proceeds will go to supporting Cannabis Amnesty’s mission to correct this injustice by rallying Canadians to encourage the government to act now and issue a mass pardon to all individuals for the offence of simple, non-violent possession of cannabis.

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A poll conducted in May 2017 by Nanos Research and the Globe and Mail indicated that 62% of Canadians either support or somewhat support pardons for people with criminal records for marijuana possession. Considering that racialized communities have been unfairly targeted more than others, this is an encouraging statistic. As found on Cannabis Amnesty’s website, “Canada has an opportunity to become a world leader by implementing a cannabis policy driven by compassion and evidence, not stigma and fear.” So let’s all step up. This is how you can make a difference:

1. Visit Pardon.life to purchase PARDON products to make a statement around this injustice and to help give those affected a chance at cannabis amnesty

2. Sign the petition at Pardon.life to show your support for those fighting for cannabis amnesty and help us reach our goal of 10,000 signatures to help galvanize change. The more signatures garnered, the greater the impact.

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