Marijuana Activists Want Vote On Pot

Feb 4, 2013

Larsen has ded­i­cated his life’s work to cannabis law reform. On Jan.  23, Dana Larsen spent his after­noon in UVic’s Stu­dent Union Build­ing speak­ing about pot to an audi­ence that no doubt con­sisted of a few more empty chairs than he would have liked to see.  This has become a typ­i­cal day for Larsen in his capac­ity as the face of Sen­si­ble B.C., a cam­paign to reform B.C.’s cannabis laws through a provin­cial ref­er­en­dum.  Larsen, 41, has trav­elled across B.C., speak­ing at events both large and small as he pro­motes his cam­paign. Larsen has ded­i­cated his life’s work to cannabis law reform.  He was polit­i­cally active as a stu­dent at SFU and, upon grad­u­a­tion, worked with Marc Emery, a promi­nent mar­i­juana activist, at the mag­a­zine Cannabis Cul­ture.  He was involved with the Mar­i­juana Party until he joined the NDP in 2003.  In 2010, he ran for the lead­er­ship of the provin­cial NDP and received 2.7 per cent of the vote. Sen­si­ble B.C.  aims to imple­ment some­thing called the sen­si­ble polic­ing act.  This act would effec­tively decrim­i­nal­ize pos­ses­sion of cannabis in B.C.  by redi­rect­ing police per­son­nel and resources away from tar­get­ing cannabis pos­ses­sion.  Activ­i­ties like cul­ti­va­tion, traf­fick­ing and dri­ving under the influ­ence would remain sub­ject to cur­rent polic­ing and penal­ties.  Minors in pos­ses­sion of cannabis would be treated as though they were in pos­ses­sion of alco­hol. The sec­ond part of the pro­posed act calls for the full legal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana in B.C.  while rec­og­niz­ing that to do so would require some level of sup­port from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment as the Con­trolled Drugs and Sub­stances Act falls within fed­eral juris­dic­tion. For B.C.  to legal­ize mar­i­juana, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment would need to either legal­ize cannabis or cre­ate an excep­tion for B.C.  Accord­ing to Larsen, this could be done through Sec­tion 56 of the Con­trolled Drugs and Sub­stances Act, which allows for a per­son or “class of per­sons” to be des­ig­nated exempt. Both decrim­i­nal­iza­tion and legal­iza­tion would pre­vent peo­ple from fac­ing crim­i­nal charges for cannabis pos­ses­sion.  Legal­iza­tion would involve the gov­ern­ment in the reg­u­la­tion and tax­a­tion of the sub­stance, while decrim­i­nal­iza­tion would not. The sen­si­ble polic­ing act would man­date that the provin­cial gov­ern­ment estab­lish a com­mis­sion that would hold hear­ings to study how B.C.  should imple­ment a taxed and reg­u­lated sys­tem if allowed to do so by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Larsen voices few con­cerns about whether or not his ini­tia­tive would pass if B.C.  res­i­dents vote on the pro­posal.  A 2012 poll by the research firm Forum found that 76 per cent of British Columbians favour either legal­iza­tion and tax­a­tion of mar­i­juana ( 52 per cent ) or decrim­i­nal­iza­tion of small amounts ( 24 per cent ).  Eleven per cent of British Columbians are con­tent with the sta­tus quo, while 12 per cent sup­port increas­ing penal­ties. What Larsen sees as the real obsta­cle to imple­ment­ing the sen­si­ble polic­ing act is col­lect­ing the required num­ber of sig­na­tures to com­pel the gov­ern­ment to hold a ref­er­en­dum.  Though eight ini­tia­tive appli­ca­tions have been approved by Elec­tions B.C.  since 1995, only the ini­tia­tive to repeal the HST has made it through the entire process. For an ini­tia­tive to go to ref­er­en­dum, it must be checked by Elec­tions B.C.  to ensure that it is clearly writ­ten and falls within provin­cial juris­dic­tion.  Advo­cates must then col­lect sig­na­tures from 10 per cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers in every provin­cial elec­toral dis­trict within a 90-day period.  Sen­si­ble B.C.  is plan­ning to col­lect sig­na­tures between Sep­tem­ber and Novem­ber of 2013 in the hopes of prompt­ing a ref­er­en­dum in 2014.  To gain an advan­tage, Sen­si­ble B.C.  is ask­ing sup­port­ers to reg­is­ter online so that they can be eas­ily con­tacted once the cam­paign begins to col­lect sig­na­tures. There has been debate about whether or not B.C.  has the capac­ity to decrim­i­nal­ize cannabis with­out the fed­eral government’s sup­port.  In a recent exchange with Cannabis Culture’s Jere­miah Van­der­meer, B.C.’s Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and Attor­ney Gen­eral Shirley Bond responded, “Police are con­sti­tu­tion­ally required to enforce the rule of law.  Until and unless Cana­dian law is changed, the pro­duc­tion, sale and use of mar­i­juana is cur­rently ille­gal ( con­trolled fed­eral leg­is­la­tion ), and our police have a respon­si­bil­ity to enforce crim­i­nal laws for the good of all British Columbians.” How­ever, by approv­ing the sen­si­ble polic­ing act as an ini­tia­tive, Elec­tions B.C.  indi­cated that they felt it fell within provin­cial juris­dic­tion.  In response to a ques­tion from a mem­ber of the audi­ence about the con­tro­versy, Larsen said, “Stephen Harper could sue British Colum­bia, go to court and fight us.  I say, bring it on.” In order for any ini­tia­tive to col­lect the required num­ber of sig­na­tures, the pro­po­nents need a size­able vol­un­teer base.  Sam Veke­mans, the local vol­un­teer co-ordinator for Sen­si­ble B.C., asked that any­one inter­ested in vol­un­teer­ing like the Face­book page Sen­si­ble BC – Vic­to­ria to stay updated. Source: Mart­let (CN BC Edu) Copy­right: 2013 Mart­let Pub­lish­ing Soci­ety Con­tact: letters@​martlet.​ca Web­site: http://​www​.mart​let​.ca/

170d9796a6sen.jpg 150x150 Marijuana Activists Want Vote On Pot

Read more here:
Mar­i­juana Activists Want Vote On Pot

Related Posts

Share This

Leave a Comment