420 celebrates end of prohibition & its harms

Pain, muscle spasms, menstrual cramps and insomnia were all common ailments suffered by Londoners in the 19th century, who turned to cannabis to relive their symptoms.

The plant had been used by Eastern cultures for centuries prior to Western countries like Britain discovering its medicinal uses in the mid-1800s. A popular tonic was Squire’s Extract, developed by a trader for the British East India Company who came across it in India and sold to Londoners in 1842 for ‘rheumatism, infant convulsions and spasms from rabies and tetanus.’

By 1923, however, Canada banned its cultivation, sale and use. For the next 95 years, activists and advocates would mount a social campaign and legal challenge to allow access to medical and recreational consumers without fear of penalty or punishment.

One route was through the very court system that metered out fines and jail time for citizens in violation of prohibition laws.

In 1996, Terrance Parker appealed his conviction for possession, cultivation and trafficking on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, arguing it was his right as a Canadian to use the plant to help control his seizures. The Ontario Court of Appeal agreed & Canada enacted the Marihuana for Medical Access Regulations (MMAR).

In 2011, Judge Donald Taliano ruled the MMAR and its prohibitions against possession and production constitutionally invalid and ordered the federal government to fix the problems in the legislation. Two years later, the Canadian government passed the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) to create a commercially licensed industry and allow companies like Tilray to cultivate, process and provide marijuana to the medical community.

A further challenge in 2015 saw the Supreme Court of Canada agree that medical patients should be allowed to consume cannabis in non-inhaled forms, allowing for extracts like oils, capsules and topicals.

In nearly every jurisdiction in which some form of legalization of cannabis is underway, the medical community was instrumental in opening those doors to access and acceptance. Canada was no exception. In October 2018, cannabis was made legal nationwide in Canada – only the second country in the world to do so.

Today, April 20, is commonly recognized as a day to celebrate the work of activists and advocates across our country who fought to help make cannabis available to all. We also support those still fighting for justice for citizens unfairly convicted under prohibition through support of organizations in Canada and the U.S. that advocate for changes in the criminal justice process and prisoner reform, such as John Howard Society of Canada, and by funding programs that provide entrepreneurship opportunities, career training and mentorship for people with criminal histories, as well as expungement of criminal records associated with non-violent cannabis offences in partnership with Minority Cannabis Business Association.

We’re honoured to be part of this movement and this industry that provides high-quality legal cannabis for all without fear or stigma and look forward to serving our patients in the years to come.