War on Weed

Sensational campaigns targeted marijuana use.

Written by Kaitlin Vitt

October 16, 2018

Marijuana — it’s the burning weed with roots in hell, offering a moment of bliss but a lifetime of regret. At least, that’s what anti-cannabis films from the 1930s warned.

Many of these films came from the United States, though Canada had its share of scare tactics. In 1922, Emily Murphy, the first female magistrate in Canada, published The Black Candle, warning people of the alleged dangers of marijuana and quoting a Los Angeles police chief who said the drug “has the effect of driving [people] completely insane.”

Canada made marijuana illegal in 1923, though there’s not much explanation as to why — no parliamentary debate was recorded when marijuana was added to the list of illegal drugs. On October 17 — ninety-five years after banning marijuana use — Canada became one of the few countries where recreational use of the drug is legal.

This article appears in the December 2018-January 2019 issue of Canada’s History magazine.

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