Pot crusader hopes to light some fires as he brings decriminalization drive to Cowichan

Dana Larsen, founder of Sensible BC, is on a mission to give B.C. the right to vote on cannabis regulation.    - Danielle Pope
Dana Larsen, founder of Sensible BC, is on a mission to give B.C. the right to vote on cannabis regulation.
— image credit: Danielle Pope

Call off B.C.'s police from busting folks with pot for personal use, then lobby Ottawa to legalize and tax marijuana.

That's basically the three-year, two-step plan being pitched by decriminalization advocate Dana Larsen who's visiting the Cowichan Library Monday at 6 p.m., then Mill Bay's Kerry Park Recreation Centre Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Pivotal to Larsen's push — called Sensible BC — is the province's Sensible Policing Act.

It could order all B.C. cops to stop spending time or resources searching, seizing or arresting anyone for simple cannabis possession, explained the director of Vancouver's Medical Cannabis Dispensary.

"Lawyers at Elections B.C. have confirmed this (act) legislation is within provincial jurisdiction and suitable for a referendum," said Larsen, 41, a former B.C. NDP leadership candidate.

But staging that referendum means officially collecting 10% of voters signatures in each of B.C.'s 85 provincial ridings, a feat similar to what was done two years ago to dump the HST.

So Larsen's touring and assembling volunteers to gain those 400,000-some names needed within a 90-day window, between September to November 2013.

"We're registering people, and plan to start the clock ticking in September."

If successful, Elections B.C. would hold a Sensible Policing Act referendum in September 2014 — then bring on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's federal Conservatives, who've stated they won't legalize cannabis.

"If we win the referendum in 2014, I don't expect Stephen Harper would be that supportive (of legalization) but there's an election in 2015," said Larsen.

"If Harper's defeated, it would definitely make it easier for us to make change on this in B.C."

His drive follows recent votes to legalize ganja in Washington and Colorado states, lending the Sensible B.C. campaign a boost.

"Our legislation would also decriminalize possession in B.C., and set up a commission to figure out the rules and regulations needed to create a legally regulated system in our province, when the feds say 'Yes'," he said of issues spanning medical-cannabis dispensing, labeling, tax rates, marijuana shops, home-growing and more.

Legalizing cannabis would also unclog B.C.'s courts, steal money from gangs, and hand Victoria an estimated $500 million in annual revenues, Larsen said.



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