Saskatchewan NDP call on province to lobby Ottawa for pot possession pardons

REGINA — The NDP wants the Saskatchewan government to press Ottawa to pardon people with past convictions for marijuana possession.

Opposition critic Nicole Sarauer says there’s no reason to burden people with criminal records for something about to become legalized.

She notes that 820 people in Saskatchewan were charged with cannabis possession in 2016, 51 per cent above the national average.

Justice Minister Don Morgan says he will look at the NDP request.

But he says a blanket pardon would probably not in the best interest of justice in Saskatchewan.

“I would think it’s unlikely that Ottawa would look at it and the fact of the matter is that if a person wants to have a pardon, it’s open to them to apply for a pardon on their own behalf,” he said Tuesday.

Since introducing the Cannabis Act last April, the federal Liberals have been under pressure to devise an amnesty program to account for the disproportionate effects that drug laws have had on minority communities.

In January, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the federal government is weighing all of the legal implications of pardoning people who have been convicted of simple pot possession.

Recreational marijuana is expected to be legalized later this year.

(CTV Regina, CKRM, The Canadian Press)