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REPORTING · 15th November 2012
Walter McFarlane
Dana Larsen was in Kitimat on Thursday, November 8th at the Kitimat Public Library to speak about his plan to legalize marijuana. He expressed he has been an advocate for the legalization of the plant for some time.

“In the 20 years I’ve been doing this kind of work, people have often told me: ‘why get so worked up, for it’s just a matter of time before these laws change. Just a matter of time’ and I can think nothing is further from the Truth. It’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of hard work and effort, sacrifice and money and all those kinds of things,” said Larsen.

He expressed the government wanted to change the laws to make them less strict, however, the laws have only gotten stricter. He expressed things have been going well for his cause recently. For one, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities voted to change the laws and decriminalizing possession of marijuana.

Then Washington and Colorado voted to decriminalize the drugs. In Washington, they could possess only up to an ounce. They have set up a commission to determine how it is going to be sold. 18 other states have legalized medical cannabis.

He said the answer is in referendums and grass roots organizations. He stated BC is the only Province where they could get enough signatures to have a Ballot initiative. To do this, Larsen and several lawyers have gotten together to draft a law called the Sensible Policing Act.

“It would decriminalize the possession of cannabis in British Columbia by instructing all police in BC to stop searching, seizing or arresting anybody for simple possession of cannabis. They should just leave you alone for simple possession of cannabis,” said Larsen.

He said he wanted treated similar to the way alcohol is handled for people who are under 19. He wants to make it so a police officer could take away a teenager’s pot if they do not have a medical permit but the youth would face neither arrest or a criminal record.

“The punishment for cannabis for a minor cannot be more severe then it is for alcohol position for a minor,” said Larsen.

The second part would ask the Federal Government to decriminalize marijuana across Canada or give British Columbia an exemption. He pointed out Minister of Health can give anyone an exemption to the drug laws at any time for a scientific, medical or public interest purposes.

A Provincial Commission would determine the laws and regulations behind legalized marijuana. This would include what can be grown on your property, the age limits for public purchase, the tax rates, etc…

He pointed out Alcohol and Tobacco are regulated by the Province. He suggested while it might take some time to legalize cannabis, two of the three big parties in Canada are more sympathetic to their cause.

Larsen pointed out there were two ways this law could be passed. The first was if the Liberals or NDP would bring it forward. The other is through a referendum.

A referendum would mean getting 10% of the registered voters in each of BC’s electoral districts to sign on to the initiative. This has to be done in a three month period. Polls show there is 80% support for this issue. However, they lack the infrastructure, the people to go out and get the signatures. He also pointed out only one Referendum in all of British Columbian history has ever made it to the vote.

His plan is to build the momentum in the time leading up to next September when they plan to start the three month Elections BC clock. Once every three years, in September, British Columbia is supposed to have a referendum day. However, there is never anything on the ballot so people do not realize a referendum day went by. The next one is September 2014.

Larsen also stated possession charges are on the rise across the Province. 1700 people were charged in 2005. In 2011, it was 3700 people. He pointed towards Stephen Harper for making this a high priority issue, a serious offence and increasing the penalties for cultivation and trafficking.

“I really think this is a time when we can change these laws in British Columbia and see what has happened in Washington and Colorado has got to be inspiring for us here,” said Larsen.
Comment by concern on 22nd November 2012
When you do this, we will have people on drugs
behind the wheel, raping and killing. When they are arrested only to be let go. Because they are not in there right mind.