Who would have thought that patriotism and cannabis consumption could go hand-in-hand? Coincidentally, Canada Day is also the same day as Cannabis Day – both of which are celebrated on July 1 every year.
This year’s Canada Day marks the 154th anniversary of the enactment of the 1867 Constitution Act, which united three colonies into a single country within the British Empire: our beloved O Canada!
While there is so much history and culture to be celebrated during the span of our country’s origins, at Smokey’s, we’d like to take the time to focus on an equally important moment – the one when Canadians decided to celebrate cannabis on the same day as we celebrate our nation’s birth.
A Brief History of Canada Day and How It Is Celebrated
This holiday lets Canadians express their patriotism in our history, culture, and major achievements. It is usually celebrated with festivities held across the country, with the first one happening in 1868. Here’s a brief timeline of how Canada Day came to be:
- July 1, 1867: The British North America Act, which is today known as the Constitution Act, 1867, constituted Canada.
- June 20, 1868: Governor General Lord Monck signs a proclamation that requests all Her Majesty’s subjects across Canada to celebrate July 1; which is pretty much equivalent to obtaining a nationwide license to party!
- 1879: A federal law finally makes July 1 a statutory holiday, and is referred to as the “Anniversary of Confederation.” The holiday is later called “Dominion Day.”
- October 27, 1982: July 1, or still called “Dominion Day” is officially renamed as “Canada Day.”
Nowadays, most communities all over the country have their own celebrations, which typically consist of public events such as carnivals, parades, festivals, barbecues, fireworks displays, concerts, and citizenship ceremonies.
However, Canadian cannabis consumers have created the need to celebrate twice as much on this day, which brings us to the question...
How Did Cannabis Day Come to Life?
Cannabis Day is an annual Canadian holiday that started in 1977 in Alberta as a joint venture of the Canadian Association to Liberate Marijuana and the Alberta Legalization of Cannabis Committee. These two groups worked hard as advocates for its legalization, and all of their efforts finally came to fruition in October 2018.
Coinciding with Canada Day couldn’t be more apt, as Canada will always be known as the first G7 nation to legalize the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. If anything, a progressive feat such as legalization is sure to make any Canadian feel patriotic and empowered!
Cannabis Day is a time to strengthen the positive awareness surrounding cannabis and its many benefits. On this day, advocates gather at parks and venues to hold informative discussions as well as sell cannabis and cannabis-related products. With the official legalization of recreational cannabis use on October 17th, 2018, Cannabis Day continues to see surges in interested crowds at its events.
Speaking of legalization, let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at how this marvellous feat was brought to life.
A Look Back at the Legalization of Cannabis In Canada
It wasn’t a walk in the park for cannabis advocates in Canada. When the Canadian government started using hemp to stimulate the economy in the 1800s, farmers were given hemp seeds with the intention that they would cultivate it for its many uses. By 1822, the provincial parliament of Upper Canada started to set some money aside to purchase machinery for hemp processing.
Its humble beginnings slowly dragged into the Prohibition Era, when the Canadian government introduced the Act to Prohibit Improper Use of Opium and other Drugs in 1923, which was a consolidation of past legislation that only consisted of opium, morphine, and cocaine. The same year, cannabis was added to the Confidential Restricted List under the Narcotics Drug Act Amendment Bill.
1932 marks the first year when Canadian law enforcement seized any cannabis. The rise of the counterculture movement during the ‘60s led to an increase in the use of psychedelic substances and cannabis. Anti-cannabis laws were being enforced, and the number of arrests over cannabis increased.
The Road to Legalization
In 2001, Canada introduced the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations Act (MMAR) after the Canadian Court of Appeal officially declared that it is “unconstitutional” to prohibit the use of medical marijuana.
MMAR allowed patients in need to have dried flowers as long as they have a government-issued license, with their physician signing it off. This made Canada the first country in the world to legalize cannabis for medical purposes. Things got a little bit easier in 2014 when medical marijuana could be prescribed by a physician without a government license.
The possibility of cannabis legalization for recreational purposes began in 2015, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led the Liberal Party to a majority victory. Cannabis advocates cheered on since one of Trudeau’s major points in his campaign platform was to legalize recreational cannabis. In 2016, a national poll revealed that seven out of 10 Canadians were in favour of the legalization, with the Canadian government working ardently to complete the final wording of its legislation.
On April 13th 2017, Bill C-45 was introduced to parliament and on March 22, 2018, was approved by the Senate. The bill went through further reviews by other committees and finally, on June 20, 2018 much to the joy of tokers all over the country, the Prime Minister announced that cannabis would officially be legal for recreational use on October 17 that year. The bill allowed recreational use for anyone 18 and older, and possession of up to 30 grams per person.
Since then, the cannabis industry has undergone a massive boom, with the legalization paving the way for small businesses to grow bigger in the newly competitive market. Canada will forever hold a special mark in global history when it comes to cannabis legalization – and if that doesn’t make you feel patriotic enough, we don’t know what will!