Gerald Le Dain was on the Supreme Court of Canada from 1984 to 1988. ((The Supreme Court of Canada))

Gerald Le Dain, a former Supreme Courtjustice who led a well-regarded but ultimately little-heeded commission on the non-medical use of drugs, has died at 83.

The Supreme Court of Canada said in a release that Le Dain died Tuesday in Toronto. Cause of death was not given.

From 1969 to 1973, he chaired the federal inquiry into drug use.

Its four lengthy reports marked a turning point in official North American thinking about recreational drugs in general, particularly marijuana.

The commission did not reach consensus on policy recommendations but all members supported movement toward decriminalization, especially in the case of cannabis.

In 1978, then prime minister Pierre Trudeau promised legislation that would decriminalize minor cases of posssession but his government was replaced by the Tories under Joe Clark and the issue went into limbo.

Le Dain was born in Nov. 27, 1924, in Montreal. After service overseas during the Second World War, he enrolled at McGill University and obtained his law degree in 1949.

That year, he pursued further studies in France, at the University of Lyon.

He practiced with a Montreal firm and between 1953 and 1959, and again from 1966 to 1967, taught law at McGill.

Le Dain became dean of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto in 1967 and was called to the bar of Ontario the following year.

Two years later, he was appointed to the Federal Court of Appeal and was elevated to the Supreme Court of Canada in May 1984, retiring four years later.

He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1989.