1976 was a year of “firsts” for Canada. It was the year that Canada hosted its first Olympics in Montreal, the year that the CN Tower first opened to the public in Toronto, and the year that the Timbit was first introduced, forever revolutionizing the bite-size confectionary market around the world. For Ontario senior Bev Camp, the year 1976 was memorable for personally-significant reasons. It was the year that he would be busted for the possession of cannabis.
In 1976, the possession and personal use of cannabis in any form was illegal. Canada’s Prime Minister at the time, Pierre Trudeau, had largely ignored the conclusions reported by the widely-praised Le Dain Commission four years earlier. The Commission had advised the repeal of the prohibition of cannabis use, presenting a total of 365 submissions at large hearings that featured the countless passionate testimonies of prominent supporters, including that of Beatles’ frontman John Lennon.
Nearly 40 years later, Pierre Trudeau’s son, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,introduced legislation to legalize cannabis in Canada, and the Government of Canada announced it intended to grant pardons to Canadians who had been convicted of simple cannabis possession charges.
This past weekend, 43-years after he was nabbed for possession, Bev Camp – now 73-years-old and a London, Ontario resident – was denied entry into the US on the basis of that very conviction. According to the CBC, Camp was utterly dismayed when American Customs Agents denied his request for entry into the US on February 9th when he showed up at the airport.
Camp was en route to visit friends in Florida that he hadn’t seen for up to 50 years and had never visited before (due to impairments associated with Camp’s long-term mental health issues which disabled him from travelling). “[The conviction] was just so old and so small and so petty, I just thought, ‘Gee, who’s going to haul that up,” said Camp.