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Not This Time

Not This Time: Canadians, Public Policy, and the Marijuana Question, 1961-1975

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 300
  • Book Info
    Not This Time
    Book Description:

    InNot This Time, Marcel Martel explores recreational use of marijuana in the 1960s and its emergence as a topic of social debate.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2794-9
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    During the taping of the television programUnder Attackin January 1970, the minister of national health and welfare, John Munro, said that the federal government would legalize marijuana. As Canadian public opinion was very divided on this issue, the minister’s statement would have been regarded as either a courageous gesture or political suicide. However, Munro took pains to qualify his pronouncement, adding that it would ‘be totally irresponsible if we didn’t legalize it’ if a ‘significant minority’ of Canadians smoked it.¹ In view of the fact that the Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs, appointed by...

  5. 1 ‘A Growing Problem’: Reporting and Measuring the Use of Illegal Drugs
    (pp. 11-35)

    In 1968,Chatelainemagazine published the story of Keith, a twenty-one-year-old man from a ‘good’ family, who was arrested for possession of marijuana and got a six-month jail sentence. His father was outraged, since he considered Keith’s action a benign offence: ‘What good will it do, putting a boy like that in jail?’ His mother was angry and frustrated since she could not understand a society that relied more and more on drugs to cure ailments or deal with stress and at the same time prohibited marijuana. She blamed the courts for giving harsh penalties, ‘the irresponsibility’ of the media...

  6. 2 ‘We Can’t Afford to Take a Neutral Position’: Interest Groups and Marijuana Use
    (pp. 36-75)

    Speaking before the Empire Club in 1969, James P. Mackey, chief of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department, declared that he could not ‘afford to take a neutral position’ on the drug issue, and even less so could his public.¹ These words accurately distil the motivations of certain interest groups in the media-fuelled debate on drug use.

    Interest groups wish to shape public opinion, of course, but they are still more interested in reaching the ears of politicians, because, after all, they are the ones to implement or amend public policies. As Kingdon and especially Lemieux note, the study of public...

  7. 3 The Scientific Experts and Provincial Governments: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island
    (pp. 76-119)

    ‘I’m opposed to the legalization of [marijuana], period, double period, triple period.’¹ With these words, British Columbia premier W.A.C. Bennett made his position on marijuana clear. As well as being a media issue and a preoccupation of interest groups, the consumption of legal, and particularly illegal, drugs was sometimes a source of tension between the provinces and the federal government. As national health deputy minister J.N. Crawford underlined in July 1968, any federal action had to take into account the constitutional powers of the provinces, as the drug issue involved health and education, both of which fell under their jurisdiction.²...

  8. 4 Debating Marijuana Use: The Le Dain Commission, 1969–1973
    (pp. 120-155)

    On 1 May 1969, the minister of national health and welfare, John Munro, informed the House of Commons that the government was appointing a Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs. The Commission’s mandate was to gather data on the phenomenon of non-medical drug use, to ‘report on the current state of medical knowledge’ regarding drugs, to identify and report on the motivation and factors that led to the non-medical consumption of drugs, and to recommend to the federal government, ‘alone or in its relations with government at other levels,’ ways to reduce drug use.¹ In making this...

  9. 5 A Small Step beyond the Status Quo: The Federal Government and Recreational Drug Use
    (pp. 156-197)

    In July 1968, J.N. Crawford, the deputy minister of national health and welfare, wrote that his department was ‘very much concerned with the problem of drug abuse and particularly the increasing use of marijuana in Canada.’¹ About six years later, an official from the same department declared that the drug scare, and in particular the one about marijuana, was almost over, and that alcohol abuse had become the new priority.²

    By 1975, it seems that marijuana was no longer an issue. Since in the end the federal government did not significantly alter its drug legislation, at least in regard to...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 198-208)

    Years of debate resulted in few changes to the legal status of marijuana. The drug remained under the Narcotic Control Act, and it retained its symbolic place as a criminal substance. Put in these terms, the only outcome of this episode of public discussion about recreational marijuana use was the preservation of the status quo. Not only did possession, possession for trafficking, trafficking, importation and exportation, and cultivation of marijuana remain criminal offences, but proponents of decriminalization – one solution which appeared during the course of the debate – failed to convince the federal government of the merits of this solution. It...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 209-258)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 259-270)
  13. Index
    (pp. 271-277)