Canadian marijuana activist and long-time grower Michael “Puff Dog” Thomas recalls a surprising encounter with his grandfather that opened an ancient chapter in history: Cannabis use in WWII.
When Thomas was a young man in 1975, his heart was racing when his grandfather caught him smoking marijuana behind the garage.
“I thought I was in trouble,” he told The Puff Puff Post on the sidelines of 4/20 celebration in Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.
But to his surprise, it was not the case.
His grandfather didn’t express any furry but understanding when he sat Thomas down at the picnic table, recounting stories of how cannabis helped him as a frontline medic in WWII
“He smoked cannabis to deal with what was known as shell shock,” he said.
Coined in WWI, shell shock is a term used to describe the trauma many soldiers were afflicted with during the war, way before doctors came with the final modern term known as Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“It calmed him so he could help others or do surgery on those who were dying,” he added. “So, that’s how I learned about medical marijuana.”
The incident catapulted Thomas into the activism world, which at times landed him time in prison.
Three Times in Jail
Thomas, who was the Health and Safety Representative for The Energy and Chemical Workers Union (ECWU), is now a retiree.
But his life experience includes six months in jail for growing marijuana.
“I did three sessions in jail, in 1989, 1992, and 1995 was my last one,” he said. “Each time I was growing between 150-200 plants.”
Asked about the four plants limit in the upcoming legalization, Thomas said: “Well, it doesn’t affect me. I have been growing cannabis since 1975, I am not going to stop tomorrow because they say changed the law.”
“I grew illegally all these years,” Thomas said, “I question the integrity of their laws.”
Thomas currently has an old license to grow his cannabis.
“Cannabis prohibition in 1923 was not founded on sound principles. We realize that the laws were not based on science, factual evidence but based on hearsay and racism,” he concluded.
Before WWII, Canada Bans Pot
Sixteen years before the start of WWII, Canada added cannabis to the Schedule of the Opium and Narcotic Control Act.
Cannabis was not only used to calm soldiers, but the psychological effects of marijuana were also used during WWII to extract important information from prisoners.