Should The Godmother Of Cannabis Prohibition Be On Canadian Currency?

The new face on Canada's currency might get some dirty looks from marijuana fans and civil-rights activists.

When the Bank of Canada called on the nation to nominate an iconic Canadian woman to appear on new currency, some suggested choosing Emily Murphy, the famous suffragette, jurist and author who was also a "pioneer in the war against narcotics" as this Heritage Minute notes:

In the 1920s, Murphy became one of the first crusaders against cannabis. As Canadian author and journalist Mark Bourrie wrote:

"Emily Murphy...made Canada the first Western country to launch a war on pot. She convinced the government to ban cannabis by writing a book that, if it came on the market today, would certainly fall under the hate crimes provision of the Criminal Code," wrote Mark Bourrie.

That book was The Black Candle (1922), a plea to protect the white race from drugs (especially opium and "marihuana") and the influence of the races (mainly Asians and blacks) who peddle them. Here's how she describes the effects of smoking marijuana: "If this drug is any great extent, it ends in the untimely death of its addict."

But her call for Americans and Canadians to consider kicking out "visitors" (i.e. Chinese emigrants) makes her sound like the Donald Trump of the 1920s:

"[I]t behooves the people in Canada and the United States, to consider the desirability of these visitors...and to say whether or not we shall be 'at home' to them in the future. A visitor may be polite, patient, persevering, as above delineated, but if he carries poisoned lollypops in his pocket and feeds them out to our children, it might be wise to put him out."

The following year, Canada became the first western country to prohibit cannabis. Whether or not the government made the decision under the influence of Murphy's bestselling book has been debated. But it's clear that she was a trailblazer in the culture of fear-mongering, racism and misinformation that fuelled cannabis prohibition.

h/t CBC, National Post, Huffington Post


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