On October 17, 2018, Canadians everywhere celebrated the legalization of marijuana, thanks to Bill C-45.

The Cannabis Act, which was passed on June 21, 2018, marked the end of 95 years of prohibition since cannabis was first criminalized in 1923.

Although Bill C-45 was introduced by the Justin Trudeau administration in April of 2017, this wasn’t the first time a crack at more lenient cannabis laws has been made.

An article published in 1974 by Calgary 3009, the paper that would ultimately become the Calgary Journal, states that “legislation was introduced to the Canadian senate which will, if passed by both houses, abolish prison terms for simple possession of cannabis.”

This was 45 years ago under the leadership of a different Trudeau, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre who would go on to form Le Dain Commission.

This commission, formally known as The Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medicinal Use of Drugs, was introduced by then-PM Pierre Trudeau in 1969. This was in response to a surge in the popularity of cannabis among the middle class and the resulting increase of cannabis-related criminal charges.

With charges skyrocketing from 20 cases in 1962 to over 2,300 cases in 1968.  By 1972, a report by Le Dain Commission recommended decriminalization. This would have meant lesser penalties in cannabis-related charges, treating them more like a parking ticket rather than a criminal offence.

Ultimately, the report included extensive research and even testimony by prominent musical and pop-culture icon John Lennon. This evidence was presented at hearings attended by over 12,000 people, but was largely ignored by the Trudeau Federal government.

Some progress was made in 2000, however, when it was ruled that Canadians had a right to use cannabis medically, and new regulations in 2013 saw that 37,800 people in Canada had access to medicinal marijuana — compared to only 100 having access just 12 years earlier.

Although cannabis has officially been legalized by the federal government, it has been left up to provincial governments to decide on how to address local access to the product.

Canadians have been very receptive to legalization. This, coupled with some of the red tape surrounding cannabis production, has resulted in shortages across the country.

Editor: Richie Nguyen | rnguyen@cjournal.ca

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