History of Drug Policy in Canada

The following is a brief history of Canadian drug policy summarized from Busted: An Illustrated History of Drug Prohibition in Canada. The original book is written by Dr. Susan Boyd, a member of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, and is summarized here with permission. For the full, detailed, and illustrated account of how punitive drug laws based on prohibition took root in Canada and shaped society’s views on drug use, we encourage you to purchase Busted.

From the 1500s on, fur traders, missionaries, and European colonizers from Britain and France introduced alcohol to Indigenous communities when they settled the lands we now call Canada. Alcohol was exchanged at trading posts for valuable items like furs, and its introduction had devastating impacts on Indigenous communities. At the time, alcohol was the drug of choice for Europeans, but there was growing opposition to its consumption by some moral reformers who viewed it as a corrupting force. By the 1800s and early 1900, the temperance movement in Canada flourished. White moral reformers were also focused on converting Indigenous communities to Christianity; and so this goal, along with the prohibition of alcohol, became their focus. [Keep reading]

About Canadian Drug Policy Coalition

Advocating for public health- and human rights-based drug policies grounded in evidence, social justice, and compassion. www.drugpolicy.ca