Although Canada banned cannabis in 1923, it didn’t really appear on anyone’s radar until the late 1930s. This Daily Colonist editorial, from Victoria, BC, reveals the ‘reefer madness’ that was taking hold.
Ottawa has decreed, at long last, that the cultivation of marijuana can only be carried on with a licence from the Department of Health… The curse of marijuana cigarettes is one that should be wiped out altogether and no legislation would be too drastic to accomplish this end.
The Daily Colonist, March 8, 1938
A weed, probably as old as plant growth, and one in use for various purposes for a long time, has now been made the subject of an amendment to the Opium and Narcotic Drug Act. It is marijuana, and attention has been directed to it because its leaves, when dried and made into cigarettes, are intoxicating by virtue of a drug they contain. The practice of smoking marijuana cigarettes has been going on for a long time, seemingly without Parliament having become aware of its injurious effect. In the United States there is, and has been for some time, smoking of marijuana cigarettes among college and high school pupils, in the underworld, and, no doubt, in other strata of society.
There is the story of a boy in California who, after smoking three marijuana cigarettes, killed his best friend; of a Chicago girl running away from home to become an habituee of a marijuana den in Detroit; of a New York girl dying through having acquired the habit, and of 125 addicts having been found in a group of 475 prisoners in one American city. The Ottawa Journal recalls that marijuana was known in the time of Homer, who described it as a thing to make a man forget his home and become a swine. In the Orient it is known as “hashish”. Among the Arabs it is “hashishin,” meaning hemp-eaters, and in Asia it is smoked, chewed or drunk. The drug in the weed is Cannabis, variously called bhang, gunga, charras and kef.
Ottawa has decreed, at long last, that the cultivation of marijuana can only be carried on with a licence from the Department of Health. The stalk of the plant has a commercial use in the making of rope, and in the Prairies the growth is sometimes of value as a windbreak. The curse of marijuana cigarettes is one that should be wiped out altogether and no legislation would be too drastic to accomplish this end.