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Ottawa asks U.S. to note cannabis pardons to ensure accurate picture

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale speaks during an announcement on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 16, 2019. Ottawa is encouraging Washington to take careful note of criminal pardons granted to Canadians for cannabis possession so that U.S. officers have the most accurate picture at the border. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says he made the point to Kevin McAleenan, the acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, during a meeting in Washington this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Ottawa is encouraging Washington to take careful note of criminal pardons granted to Canadians for cannabis possession so that U.S. officers have the most accurate information when deciding whether to let people cross the border.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says he made the point to Kevin McAleenan, the acting U.S. secretary of homeland security, during a meeting in Washington this week.

Parliament is studying a government bill that would ease the process of obtaining a pardon for possessing a small amount of cannabis now that recreational use of the drug is legal in Canada.

As a result, Goodale tells The Canadian Press, the Liberal government wants to ensure records kept in the U.S. reflect the true legal status of Canadians.

The RCMP cautions that Canadians convicted of cannabis-related offences could be refused entry to the U.S., even if they have been granted pardons in Canada.

Goodale says the U.S. officials have the right to decide who enters their country but Canada wants to ensure the Americans make decisions based on full information.

The Canadian Press