Four decades of cannabis criminals in Canada: 1970-2010

Patricia G. Erickson, Elaine Hyshka


Canada was one of the first countries in the world to criminalise cannabis in 1923. It was not until the late 1960s and an associated upsurge of youthful cannabis use that the government and various stakeholders seriously interrogated the appropriateness of this punitive prohibition. Nevertheless, despite numerous opportunities for law reform for over four decades, cannabis possession continues to be illegal and as a result, hundreds of thousands of Canadians have received criminal records under these laws. This article reviews federal attempts at cannabis law reform and uses data spanning several decades to examine the characteristics of individuals convicted of cannabis possession and the implications of criminalisation on their lives.

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Copyright (c) 2010 Patricia G. Erickson, Elaine Hyshka

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