1969 - 1973 CE
Le Dain Commission, Canada

In 1969, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s government launched an examination of drug laws and policy. Chaired by Gerald LeDain (who later became a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada), the commission investigated the role governments and courts should play in prohibiting and regulating the use and distribution of drugs used for non-medical purposes. Particular attention was given to the impact policy and laws had on the people who used drugs.

The final report (1973) contained extensive scientific documentation and recommended that polices should be adopted to discourage non-medical drug use but also recommended a gradual withdrawal of the use of the criminal law against people who use drugs. The commission called for the immediate decriminalization of cannabis possession and an emphasis on treatment and medical management rather than criminal sanctions for those addicted to opioids. It also suggested restrictions on alcohol and tobacco advertising and advised that drug education should promote exemplars rather than use a strategy of fear.

Commissioner Marie-Andree Bertrand, writing a minority position, went further and recommended a policy of legal distribution of cannabis. Her view was that cannabis should be treated similar to alcohol. On the other hand Commissioner Ian Campbell opposed decriminalization for fear it would send the wrong message.

The government largely ignored the recommendations but Canadian courts have been influenced in the general direction advocated by the inquiry.

Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Drugs: Cannabis (marijuana), Opium (morphine, heroin, opioids)
Regions: Canada
Topics: Prohibition, Taxation and regulation