Cannabis set to move out from the shadows
Why cannabis was ever ruled illegal in Canada is clouded in mystery. The year was 1923 and the country – a young, cold and pastoral nation of 9 million souls – ruled by William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s tenth and longest-serving prime minister, had that year tabled the Act to Prohibit the Improper Use of Opium and Other Drugs, which outlawed morphine, cocaine, opium and eucane, a local anesthetic used in veterinary medicine.
On April 23 of that year, three new drugs were quietly added to the list: heroin, codeine and cannabis. When federal health minister Henri Beland took to the floor of the House of Commons to announce the amendment, his speech was short. “There is a new drug in the schedule,” he said simply.
One of the first countries to outlaw cannabis, 14 years before the Marihuana Tax Act was passed in the U.S., there is little explanation for why the drug was initially prohibited. According to the CBC’s Daniel Schwartz, “It seems no one knows who added that phrase, or ordered it added. But both the House and the Senate agreed to the additions without any discussion.”
An odd point in light of the fact Canadians weren’t, by any account, smoking pot in high numbers in the first part of 20th Century. There were no references to the drug in either the Toronto Star or Globe and Mail at the time and the country’s first marijuana seizure wasn’t until almost a decade later. Still, with the Liberal motion, cannabis was fated to spend the next century in the shadows.
Ninety years after King’s government outlawed cannabis, the time has come to move the conversation out from behind the closed doors of a doctor’s office or dingy basement apartment, and into the public light where it rightly belongs. The same party that made the play for prohibition is now planning to reform cannabis laws in Canada. Still, the conversation remains one complicated by history, cliché and uncertainty.
To lend some clarity to the scene, we’re announcing Tweed Main Street, a new look brick and mortar brand built to facilitate and elevate the cannabis conversation in Canada. Our first Tweed Main Street location will open in Barrie this spring and be operated by Justin Whitehall, who is excited to be joining the Tweed team.
"I am proud to have recently signed on with Tweed and to be opening the first Tweed Main Street community engagement center,” said Whitehall. “The future is looking very optimistic for Canada's largest medical marijuana producer and I am honoured to have been considered for this position.”
Open doors at the Tweed Main Street in Barrie will be followed by a rebranding of the existing community engagement centres in Hamilton, Etobicoke and Guelph. In time we look forward to seeing Tweed Main Street shops in other markets. For now, we’re excited to put our best foot forward and showcase with our storefronts what a regulated cannabis industry will look like.
Here’s to Future Conversation!
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