A Brief History of Weed Legalization in Canada

Famous Weed Activists

In the summer of this year, marijuana is finally set to become legalized in Canada. That being said, the fight against prohibition hasn’t been an easy road. Last month we detailed the exploits of three recent Canadian marijuana activists, but the truth is that weed legalization in Canada has a much broader history than just that of the past few years.


Weed was officially outlawed in Canada in 1923, when it was included in an amendment to the Narcotics Drug Act. The inclusion was a bit peculiar as, although marijuana had been used in the western world for over a hundred years, it wasn’t particularly popular in Canada at that time. Truthfully, in 1923, Canadian society was more concerned with the illegalization of opium. Nonetheless, to not many people’s notice, weed was put on the list of illegal drugs, where it would remain for decades.


Despite its illegal status, marijuana use gradually increased in Canada until absolutely exploding in the 1960s. There were likely a multitude of reasons for the sudden jump in use. The rise of hippies, the increased popularity of counterculture and radical publications, and a greater number of Canadians travelling to parts of the world where pot and hash consumption was more socially acceptable all contributed to marijuana’s increased popularity.

The development in Canadian marijuana culture was permanent. By 2016, it was estimated that at least five million Canadians smoke pot at least once a month.

Medicinal Use

As weed became more popular in Canada, it was inevitable that people started speaking out against its prohibition. But the real catalyst to change was widespread understanding of the medicinal properties of marijuana. Once weed started being used to treat pain, severe injuries, nausea from cancer and AIDS, and multiple sclerosis, there was no looking back. In 2001, Health Canada mandated that those who need it have access to medical marijuana.

Further Developments and Court Decisions

In 2003, the Liberal Party introduced a bill which would decriminalize marijuana. Government was prorogued before it was passed. In 2004, the Liberals tried this again, only to lose a confidence vote. When the Conservative Party formed the government shortly after, they failed to keep up the legalization efforts.

Nonetheless, court decisions began to whittle away at the government’s ability to restrict marijuana, basically, opening it up for medicinal use was a step that couldn’t be undone. Once a right to marijuana was established, it was inevitable that such a right would grow into full-on legalization.

At Long Last… Legalization

On April 13, 2017, a bill to legalize cannabis in Canada was finally passed. It allows anyone over 18 to possess and use marijuana (with provinces having the ability to adjust this age), and for each person to have up to 30 grams on them at a time.

Finally! After decades of unjust prohibition, everyone in Canada will be free to smoke pot in just a few short months, as they should be.

What does weed legalization in Canada mean to you? What effect do you think it might have on the rest of the world? Let us know in the comments below!

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