Dalhousie Law Journal


Neil Boyd


Canada, Narcotics Legislation, Origins, Process, Criminalization, Historical, Context, federal Commission, non-medical use, possession of marijuana, state policy, psychoactive, re-appraisal


The year 1972 saw a federal Commission investigating the non-medical use of drugs recommend repeal of the offence of possession of marijuana', an indication that state policy with respect to the social control of psychoactive substances was undergoing a thorough re-appraisal. It is not surprising, then, that the past decade should also have seen a considerable degree of academic interest in Canada's initial attempt to make criminal the citizen's desire to alter consciousness. A comprehensive review of this admirable collection of research reveals that Canada ought not to take pride in these initial efforts. The initial statute has been explained with reference to its "racist and moralistic foundation", by the "galloping reformist zeal of Mackenzie King" and by the increasing affront of "cheap Oriental labour".2

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