Pot Party politics

Canadian activists have formed a nation-wide political party to promote the decriminalization of marijuana. The Marijuana Party was launched by Marc-Boris St-Maurice, who founded Quebec’s provincial Bloc Pot, which won 10,000 votes in Quebec’s 1998 provincial election. St-Maurice claims that the Marjuana Party could bring in ten to twenty times that total nationwide.
An election date has not yet been set, but one must be held by next spring, and could come as early as September.

The Marijuana Party has already attracted some high-profile candidates and a great deal of media attention. Marc Emery has announced that he will be coordinating the West Coast campaigns, although he will not be running as a candidate himself. “Our objective is to shame the other parties who have publicly committed to decriminalization, but done nothing,” explained Emery. He added that he also hopes to establish a provincial Marijuana Party in time for BC’s spring election.

St-Maurice says he is confident that the Marijuana Party can run the minimum 50 candidates needed to qualify as an officially registered political party. “The interest in political action is very high, and the time is right,” proclaimed St-Maurice. Emery said he expects there to be 15 candidates in BC alone.

St-Maurice has recently completed a cross-country tour to establish candidates and develop a national infrastructure. He says he plans to challenge Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day in a by-election expected to be held in BC this fall.

One federal candidate has already defected to the Marijuana Party. Chuck Beyer, NDP Candidate for Saanich – Gulf Islands in 1997, has announced that he will be a Marijuana Party candidate in the Victoria riding in the next federal election.

“I’ve tried to deal with this issue via the NDP,” says Bayer, “but riding executive members are mired in the past on this issue and do not reflect the views of the majority of British Columbians or Canadians.

“I intend to make all federal candidates talk about this important issue,” continued Bayer. “We need to examine why it takes 6 months to get a double bypass heart operation, but if your neighbor has a marijuana plant in their window the government can send someone in 10 minutes.”

The Marijuana Party logo is very similar to that of New Zealand’s Aotearoa Legalize Cannabis Party, which ran in the 1999 NZ election. Although not officially affiliated, the two parties share similar goals and platforms.

The Marijuana Party also advocates a more proportional system of federal representation.

* If you are interested in running for the Marijuana Party, in helping out or making a donation, please contact them immediately.

* Marijuana Party National HQ: PO Box 361, Station C, Montreal, Quebec, H2L 4K3; tel (514) 528-1768; email: [email protected]; website: www.marijuanaparty.org

* Marijuana Party West Coast HQ: PO Box 1416, Gibsons, BC, V0N 1V0; email: [email protected]

* Chuck Beyer (BC Victoria): (250) 389-8888; email: [email protected]; website: www.chuckbeyer.com/politics

* Norm Siefken (BC Fraser Valley): (604) 824-7513; email: [email protected]; www.votefornorm.com;

* To read all of the Marijuana Party’s media clippings, go to: www.mapinc.org/mjparty.htm