The History of Marijuana in Prince Edward Island

By Canada Day on July 1, 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government plans to legalize recreational marijuana throughout the country. The regulations will allow provinces to regulate sales however they choose, so many are already issuing surveys and discussing how they intend to proceed with marijuana legalization. Prince Edward Island is among one of the provinces planning for legalization even though it has a history with the drug that dates back to prohibition in the 1920s.

During this time, all of Canada feared the effects of marijuana, so by 1923 the country prohibited marijuana when it was added to the Opium and Narcotic Drug Act, which was supposedly repealed by 1929 in all areas except for Prince Edward Island. The Prince Edward Island government continued its opposition against marijuana well into the 1960s when G. Keith Cowan, an advisor to the PEI government, was in a war against what he called the pro-marijuana lobby. Cowan fought hard against anyone who believed marijuana was harmless by touring Prince Edward Island several times, convincing people to believe the risks of marijuana consumption. He later expressed these views on the national level when he drafted the PEI briefs for the Le Dain Commission, which addressed concerns about the campaign to legalize marijuana. Now, Prince Edward Island is departing from Cowan’s views by taking steps toward legalization and preparing for the new marijuana regulations.

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