Canada just made history by passing a bill to legalize recreational marijuana, making it the first G7 country to repeal marijuana prohibition. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced this bill in April 2017, but cannabis consumers and advocates can’t celebrate just yet, because the Senate must still approve the legislation before cannabis is officially legalized. Trudeau certainly isn’t the first to fight for marijuana legalization though, because Canada has a history with marijuana that dates back to 1535.
French explorer Jacques Cartier first saw wild hemp growing in Canada between 1535 and 1541, but the first known experimental planting of cannabis didn’t occur until 1606. The marijuana was planted in Nova Scotia by Louis Hébert, the apothecary to the founder of Quebec. By 1666, King Louis XIV’s representative Jean Talon was desperate to grow cannabis in Quebec to send back to France for textile exports, but farmers in the province were hesitant to grow cannabis, so Talon forced them to by taking their thread. Then, Britain took control of Canada in 1763, when the country needed cannabis the most, so they sent 2,000 bushels of cannabis seeds to farmers in Quebec to grow. The industry continued to thrive and “came of age” in Nova Scotia by the 1800s, but these positive views of the medicinal effects of marijuana changed by the 1920s, when all of Canada prohibited cannabis in 1923 by adding it to the Opium and Narcotic Drug Act. Now, Canada is undoing these prohibition laws as it continues to roll out recreational marijuana legalization throughout the country.