By Mike Hager and Tom Cardoso

Ottawa estimates roughly 10,000 Canadians will apply to get free pardons for their cannabis-possession convictions if the government passes a bill that gives redress to those left with criminal records from the decades of prohibition of the drug.

Scott Bardsley, spokesman for the Public Safety Minister, said his department has extrapolated statistics from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC), which handles drug-crime cases, and found upward of 250,000 convictions over the years for people caught having less than 30 grams of cannabis. But people in only about 4 per cent of those cases are expected to apply for the expedited pardons proposed under Bill C-93, which was tabled in the House of Commons two weeks ago.

Mr. Bardsley said most aren’t expected to apply for reasons that include: They have died, they have already received a pardon or they have other criminal charges on their record.