Original Cannabis, sativa plant evolved out of Central Asia (Mongolia and Southern Siberia) (Warf 2014)
Earliest communication from colonizers around cannabis use was in
1841 by a doctor from Scotland, W.B. O'Shaunghessy (Spicer, 2002). Soon after it's introduction to North
America, doctors began to prescribe cannabis for a variety of physical conditions such
as rabies, rheumatism, epilepsy, tetanus and as a muscle relaxant (Spicer, 2002).
In 1860, the first American Governmental Commission study of cannabis and health was
done by Dr. R.R. M'Meens. (Warf 2014)
Cannabis use was made illegal in Canada in 1923.
The reason it was banned was not due to evidence of its hazards to health and wellbeing
but because hemp and cannabis interfered with the production of sugar, cotton, paper
products and synthetic textiles (Warf, 2014).
Additionally, racist stereostypes around immigrants further contributed to negative beliefs
around cannabis use. (Warf 2014)
The film "Reefer Madness" was released with
the goal to scare American youth away from using cannabis and associates cannabis
use with criminality, murder and insanity (Spicer, 2002). The movie remains a cult
classic and is widely recognized as anti-cannabis propoganda.
On August 1, the Canadian government prohibited
cannabis and hemp production under the Opium and Narcotics Act (Spicer, 2002).
Cannabidiol (CBD), an active chemnical in the
cannabis plant commonly used for medicinal purposes, was first isolated and synthesized
in the laboratory by a scientist, Roger Adams, out of Harvard in the US.
(Adams et al., 1940).
Israeli scientist, Raphael Mechoulam,
first synthesized and isolated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical
in the cannabis plant that results in the typical, "high" experienced by users
Mid-1960s to early 1970s A.D.
Cannabis usage became more common
in Canada following its popularity in the U.S. and so did the convictions. In 1962, the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police reported only 20 cases connected with cannabis (Spicer, 2002).
In 1968, the number of cannabis related cases had risen to over 2,300 and in 1972 there were nearly
12,000 cannabis convictions in Canada (Spicer, 2002).
A big breakthrough was made in the
discovery of how cannabis effects the body and mind. This discovery was
that all mammals have "receptor" sites in our brains and different areas
of the body that cannabinoids interacts with, like fitting a key into a lock,
to create a response. These receptor sites that reactive to active chemicals
in the cannabis plant are part of a larger system, called the endocannabinoid
1994 to 1998 A.D.
In 1994, Canada began to use research
licenses to grow industrial hemp on experimental basis (Laate, 2012). Effective March 12,
1998 the commerical production (including cultivation) of industrial hemp was legalized
in Canada, under licenses and authorization, issued by Health Canada (Laate, 2012).
On July 30th, regulated medical cannabis
became legal in Canada.
Dr. Ethan Russo introduced the concept of "clinical
endocannabinoid deficiency" which suggests that lower endocannabinoid function is at the
root of several health issues, specifically: migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia,
and clinical depression - which Russo (2004) found often appears together as a cluster of
symptoms in patients who are cannabinoid deficient.
Sativex, the world's first cannabis
derived medicine is licensed for use in Canada. The drug is developed by
British Company GW Pharmaceuticals (Timeline, 2005).
On October 17th, the federal Cannabis Act Bill
C-45 came into effect legalize and regulate the sale of cannabis.
Changes were made on October 17th to
the Cannabis Act to make regulated cannabis concentrates and edibles
available for sale.
Dr. R.R. M'Meens reported the following findings: "cannabis effects are less intense
than opium, and the secretions are not much suppressed by it. Digestion is not disturbed;
the appetite rather increases; the whole effect of hemp being less violent, and
producing a more natural sleep, without interfering with the actions of the internal
organs, it is certainly often preferable to opium, although it is not equal to that
drug in strenth and reliability" (Spicer, 2002).
This discover was made by a U.S.-government funded study and initially identified
by Allyn Howlett and William Devane (Lee, 2010) and contributed to new understandings
of how cannabis helped with certain medical issues.
All industrial hemp grown, processed, and sold in Canada must contain 0.3% THC
or less in the leaves and flowering parts (Laate, 2012).
Further research studies led to more acceptance of Russo's theory by linking
reduced endocannabinoid function to various conditions, including epilepsy,
PTSF, autism, alcoholism and other neurodegenerative diseases (Russo, 2004).
The purpose of this Act was the following:
Protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis;
Protect young persons and others from inducement to use cannabis;
Provide for the licit production of cannabis to reduce illicit activities in
relation to cannabis;
Deter illicit activities in relation to cannabis through appropriate sanctions
and enforcement measures;
Reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis;
Provide access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis; and
Enhance public awareness of the health risks associated with cannabis use
(Cannabis Act, 2018).
Adams, R., Pease, D. C., Cain, C. K., & Clark, J. H. (1940). Structure of Cannabidiol. VI. Isomerization of Cannabidiol to
Tetrahydrocannabinol, a Physiologically Active Product. Conversion of Cannabidiol to Cannabinol 1. Journal of the
American Chemical Society, 62(9), 2402-2405. https://doi.org/10.1021/ja01866a040
Lee, M. A. (2010). The Discovery of the Endocannabinoid System. 2.
Lee, M. A. (2012). Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana - Medical, Recreational and Scientific. Simon and
Russo, E. B. (2004). Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD): Can this concept explain therapeutic benefits of
cannabis in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment-resistant conditions? Neuro
Endocrinology Letters, 25(1-2), 31-39.
Spicer, L. (2002). Historical and Cultural Uses of Cannabis and The Canadian 'Marijuana Clash' [LIBRARY OF