Pot shots: The long war over marijuana legalization


By 1971, marijuana’s scent hung over most of Canada. Some 1.5 million folks had taken at least one drag on a joint. Hundreds of thousands were regularly firing up, grooving to Three Dog Night and learning from the leaked Pentagon Papers that the U.S. administration had lied about the Vietnam War.

Convictions for simple pot possession exploded: from 431 in 1967 to 5,399 in 1970 and 8,389 in 1971. More than half were against otherwise law-abiding baby boomers under 21 who would now carry criminal records along with their university degrees.

In May 1972, a federal commission of inquiry into the non-medical use of drugs handed an audacious recommendation to the government of then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau, whose flower-child bride, Margaret, was smoking weed behind the backs of her RCMP bodyguards.

After two years of public hearings, including testimony from John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Le Dain commission said laws against simple possession of marijuana...

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