The History of Hemp Prohibition in Canada

Hemp production was banned in Canada in 1938 under the Opium and Narcotics Act as part of a combined international effort to combat the abuse of THC and other controlled substances. This ban on hemp followed the negative stigma of marijuana and caused the hemp industry to collapse. Since then, some people with minor convictions for cannabis possession have wondered if the Government of Canada plans to grant them pardons that would allow them to travel to the United States and obtain employment in certain fields. Despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada, many consumers still face significant barriers to legally accessing and using marijuana.

Hemp has been on a slow but steady journey to eliminate all the negative connotations associated with it and its use. However, even if judges rule in favor of allowing cultivation at home, those who rent their homes may be prevented from growing their own, as provincial legislation allows landlords (and some condominium associations) to prohibit the cultivation of cannabis in rental units. Producers expected that the hemp fiber market would redevelop in Canada after the ban. Drug prohibition in Canada began with the Opium Act of 1908, which was based on a report by the then Deputy Minister of Labor, Mackenzie King.

This law also applied elements of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, an international treaty to which Canada was a signatory and which would later be complemented by new laws to control activities related to psychotropic substances such as MDMA and LSD. The prohibition of cannabis was largely driven by anti-Chinese racism that had spread in British Columbia during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. In addition, people in Canada who run a large cannabis cultivation operation with at least 500 plants risk facing a mandatory two-year prison sentence. Marijuana activists in Canada who participated in the annual World March on Marijuana on May 3 called for the decriminalization of marijuana.

Instead of granting a general pardon, those seeking a stay must submit an application to the Canadian Probation Board. As a result, homeless people, renters, and frequent drug users (especially people with limited mobility) are effectively prohibited, or at least severely restricted, from legally consuming the drug without risk of punishment. Arrests for cannabis-related convictions have disproportionately affected black, indigenous, Asian and Latino people. One of the reasons why no one in Parliament asked or challenged the addition of marijuana to the list may be because at that time little was known about the drug in Canada and very few people smoked it.

While recreational use of cannabis had been increasing since the 19th century, it remained almost unknown in Canada until the 1930s, and it wasn't until the 1960s that cannabis gained popularity as a drug.

Ethel Sweetwood
Ethel Sweetwood

Unapologetic organizer. General twitter buff. Friendly social media expert. Infuriatingly humble coffee nerd. Proud tv nerd. Evil tv scholar.

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