Undeterred, Begon decided to help subsidize the labour costs of processing cannabis. In 1720 he offered farmers 60 livres per 100 pounds of cannabis hemp, about three times the current price in France.
Cannabis was already being grown in Batiscan and Champlain, and with the promise of fixed high prices, production soared. Instead of slaves, women and children were recruited to do the work of preparing the cannabis fibres for sale.
The Catholic Church didn't like the increase in cannabis cultivation. Priests were paid in tithes from local businesses and farmers; food crops were tithed, but other crops such as cannabis were exempt. When cannabis cultivation increased, Church income dropped, so clergy discouraged their parishioners from growing the crop. The Bishop of Quebec asked King Louis XV for authority to tithe cannabis, but was ignored.
Begon hoped that once cannabis cultivation was entrenched, the subsidies could be withdrawn. However, when the purchase price of cannabis was dropped to 40 livres in 1728, and then down to 25 livres two years later, production slowed as well. By 1734 cannabis exports to France had slowed to a trickle, partly due to complaints from France that the cannabis was not bring properly processed. Some cannabis continued to be grown for local use and occasional export.
Britain took control of Canada in 1763, and was in serious need of more cannabis fibre for their navy. Governor James Murray noted that cannabis was already being grown in Canada, and that "many of the lands are well cultivated for this production."
Murray wanted to "turn the thoughts of the people towards the cultivation of this article, so essential to Great Britain and for which she annually pays great sums to foreigners." Murray suggested that Germans and Russians skilled in raising and preparing cannabis be encouraged to settle in Canada, and that women and children could be used to prepare the fibres for export.
In 1790, Britain sent 2000 bushels of Russian cannabis seed to Quebec and offered it for free to farmers across the province. French farmers were reluctant to support the British navy by growing hemp, so only 15 farmers accepted any - the rest of it went to rot.
In 1800, the British Parliament sent two cannabis experts to Canada, promising them free land and great wealth if they could convince the settlers to grow more cannabis and teach them to do it well. Through a combination of bad seed, poor weather and spring floods, both experts failed miserably.
• 60 livres per 100 pounds
Article: Michel Begon de la Picardiere, by Yves Zoltvany, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto, 1974
• hemp subsidies
Book: In Search of Empire: The French in the Americas, 1670-1730, by James Pritchard, p.124, Cambridge University Press, 2004
• 60 livres per 100 pounds, Batiscan and Champlain, clergy discouraged parishioners, slowed to a trickle
Book: Metamorphoses of Landscape and Community in Early Quebec, by Colin Coates, p.43, McGill-Queen's Press, 2000
• Bishop of Quebec asked King Louis XV
Book: Report on Canadian Archives, by Doug Brymner, p.cxiv, Public Archives Canada, 1888
• Governor James Murray, hemp
Report: Report of the state of the government of Quebec in Canada, by General Murray, Dussault & Proulx, 1902
• 2000 bushels, two cannabis experts
Book: Marijuana, The First Twelve Thousand Years, by Ernest Abel, p.98, Springer US, 1980
• sent two cannabis experts to Canada
Article: Cherles Frederick Grece, by Jean-Pierre Wallot, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7, University of Toronto, 1988
• sent two cannabis experts to Canada
Article: James Campbell, by Jean-Pierre Wallot, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto, 1983