There has been a sweeping legalization movement in regards to cannabis in the last couple of years, and Canada has been no exception. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed for sweeping legalization laws just last year, and though the substance hasn't been officially decriminalized, the legal process is well underway. It is a potentially final step in what's been a long story: the history of cannabis and Canada dates back as far as the 1500s, and contains many twists and turns. Read on, and we'll walk you through Canada legalization history with this brief summary.
The first recorded mention of marijuana in Canada dates back as early as 1535. It was around this time that French explorer first observed wild hemp growing in the Canadian wilderness. Purposeful planting of the herb didn't begin until many, many years later and even then, it was mostly used for textile exports. By 1666, King Louis XIV was desperate to have as much cannabis as possible grown in Canada to then be exported to France. The hemp industry grew feverishly for many years, even as Britain took control over much of Canada. The industry continued to thrive, with Nova Scotia as its main hub, through the 1800s and into the beginning of the 1900s. It was only then that things began to change.
The popularity of hemp began to falter and drop off in favor of cotton production, which was seen as much easier and less time intensive. It was just a few years later, in 1923, that cannabis was deemed illegal under the Narcotics Drug Act Amendment. Cannabis, in addition to cocaine, morphine, and a number of other substances, were criminalized. Popular opinion had turned sharply on the medicinal effects of the substance, and it was pushed away. By 1937, marijuana seizures were in full effect by the Canadian government.
In the coming decades, cannabis popularity began to increase across the country. By the early 60s, convictions had risen to over twenty a year. By the time the 60s and the counterculture movement had ended, that number ballooned to unprecedented amounts. Over 2,000 convictions were reported each year by the end of the decade. The Gastown Riot of 1971 was the first major public protest in Canada against marijuana criminalization. Hundreds of protestors were eventually dispersed from Water Street by police on horseback.
The Le Dain Commission released a report on cannabis in 1972 that recommended that the government remove criminal penalties associated with marijuana use. No official steps were taken. In 2013, the Canadian government made some exceptions to their strict laws, allowed for the commercial production and distribution of cannabis for medical purposes. It wasn't until 2017 that the government of Canada proposed the Cannabis Act, which intended to legalize the possession, use, cultivation, and purchase of registered amounts of cannabis within the country. It is intended to go into effect this year.
The history of Canada Legalization is a long and rocky one. The current legalization of marijuana across a Canada brings to close years of criminalization and expands its potential use as a medicinal product. Check out our blog for more information and advice on medical marijuana.