Cart 0

Page 6: Bribes, threats and slaves to grow cannabis.

The government of France did everything it could to push early Canadian farmers into growing more cannabis for textile exports. Most settlers preferred growing food crops and had to be coerced into growing the labour-intensive cannabis crop.

In 1668, Jean Talon, administrator of Quebec, confiscated all the thread from the shops in the colony, and declared he would sell it only in return for cannabis hemp. Without thread, colonists couldn't make or repair their clothes, and so they were forced to grow more cannabis fibre.

In the early 1700s the beaver trade was collapsing, and New France was almost bankrupt. Intendant Michel Bégon tried to rejuvenate the Canadian economy by growing more cannabis for export to France.

Begon knew that the cheap labour needed to properly process cannabis for fibre wasn't available with the small colonial population. For four years he tried to buy a large number of African slaves to work the cannabis, finally arranging to have 200 delivered to the colony. However, the slaves never arrived, they were diverted to the West Indes where they could be sold for a much higher price.



• growing food crops
Book: Cannabis: A History, by Martin Booth, p.57, Random House, 2011

• Jean Talon
Book: The Great Intendant : A Chronicle of Jean Talon in Canada, 1665-1672, by Thomas Chapais, 1914

• confiscated all the thread
Article: Jean Talon, by Andre Vachon, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto, 1966

• confiscated all the thread
Book: Cannabis: A History, by Martin Booth, p.57, Random House, 2011

• Intendant Michel Begon, African slaves
Article: Michel Begon de la Picardiere, by Yves Zoltvany, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto, 1974

• diverted to the West Indes
Book: Blacks in Canada: A History, by Robin Winks, p.8, McGill-Queen's Press, 1997