Tens of thousands of Canadians could soon be eligible for a pot pardon, but lawyers warn about limitations

Media

The Liberal government’s announcement that it will expedite the processing of pardons for people with minor cannabis-related criminal records is welcome news to tens of thousands of Canadians who have been convicted of possession offences.

And while the Parole Board of Canada might soon be inundated with record suspension requests — more than 500,000 Canadians have a criminal record for having pot on their person, according to a 2014 study — advocates claim the Liberal plan might not go far enough to reverse decades of “historical injustice” from cannabis prohibition.

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Michael Spratt, a prominent criminal defence lawyer in Ottawa, said the pardon pledge is a “step in the right direction” but the lack of a firm timeline is problematic.

“It’s a bit charitable to call it a plan. There’s no legislation before Parliament and there aren’t many details,” Spratt said in an interview with CBC News.

“A lot of things remain to be seen about how it’s actually going to play out and, given the upcoming election, if it’s going to play out at all.”

A big question for Spratt is just how broad the government will “cast the pardon net,” and he questions whether the application process will be open to people convicted of other offences or for people who have breached probation.

Read John Paul Tasker’s full article: CBC