Indigenous Cannabis Timeline

1491 – Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas harvest, trade, and smoke a wide variety of plants for recreational and medicinal purposes free from colonial control or interference.

1535 – Jacques Cartier, one of the first French explorers to visit Turtle Island reports that hemp is being cultivated in Iroquoian gardens as he came up the St. Lawrence River.

1600s – Iroquoian peoples teach the French, Dutch and English visitors how to smoke both tobacco and cannabis. Prior to this time, the Europeans did not smoke cannabis flower. The cigar, cigarette, and blunt are indigenous inventions.

1700-1800s – Hemp is widely grown throughout the Americas as a vital industrial and agricultural product. Cannabis is considered a vital part of medicine and widely used in tinctures, salves, and ointments.

1923 – The Canadian government criminalizes the cannabis plant with no discussion, parliamentary debate, or any scientific or evidence-based argument that cannabis was harmful.

1937 – The first recorded instance of the Canadian police seizing cannabis, despite it being banned for 14 years.

1938 – The Montreal Gazette reports that colonial authorities have been destroying 3500 pounds of cannabis a day over a three week period in Caughnawaga (Kahnawake), a Mohawk community located across the river from Montreal.

2015 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his liberal party were elected into a majority government on a wave of support for their promise to legalize cannabis.

2016 – Indigenous cannabis dispensaries in Tyendinaga Mohawk territory open up.

2017 – There are over 30 indigenous cannabis dispensaries open in Ontario alone.

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