1875 CE
Inland Revenue Act begins drug regulation in Canada

The Canadian Inland Revenue Act of 1875 was based on a British act of 1872. It set out to regulate the purity of food, alcohol and drugs. But while it defined what constituted adulteration or purity for foods and alcohol, it lacked any standards for the purity of drugs. The act also set up a series of labs to analyze samples collected by inland revenue officers and inspectors. However, the quality of their reports was not good enough to be used as evidence in courts. Nor did they test drugs other than alcohol, coffee, tea and chocolate.

The context for the development of this act was complex. Pharmacists and physicians were pushing for regulation of drugs that were potentially dangerous. Anti-liquor agitators were arguing that liquor was a danger to people's health. Legislators and reformers alike had a vision for a strong, healthy nation. These forces came together to puch government to implement measures to ensure the health of the population.

According to a report issued by the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, 50 per cent of all samples tested in the first year were adulterated. Almost all coffee and pepper sold was found to include things like roasted wheat. Milk was diluted with water or had the fat skimmed off. Tea often included sand, floor sweepings and starch. Chocolate in some cases did not contain any chocolate, just a compound of wheat flour and venetian red.

Source: Malleck, D. (2006). Pharmacy in History 48:3, 103-115.

Drugs: Alcohol, Cacao (cocoa, chocolate), Caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, etc.)
Regions: Canada
Topics: Taxation and regulation