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Reading: Four Decades of Cannabis Criminals in Canada: 1970-2010


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Four Decades of Cannabis Criminals in Canada: 1970-2010


Patricia G. Erickson ,

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; University of Toronto, CA
About Patricia G.
Patricia G Erickson, Ph.D., is a senior scientist and an Adjunct Professor of Sociology and Criminology. She has been studying drug policy and the legal response to cannabis use for over 35 years. Her research focuses on public policy addressing substance use.
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Elaine Hyshka

University of Alberta, CA
About Elaine
Elaine Hyshka, M.A., is a doctoral student in the School of Public Health.
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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.

How to Cite: Erickson, P.G. and Hyshka, E., 2010. Four Decades of Cannabis Criminals in Canada: 1970-2010. Amsterdam Law Forum, 2(4), pp.1–14. DOI:
Published on 26 Oct 2010.
Peer Reviewed


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