As he munches on a beef sandwich in a cluttered eighth-floor office near Victory Square, Dana Larsen hardly seems the type to have a monumental impact on policing. But don’t let his casual attire deceive you. As the financial agent of the Sensible B.C. campaign to stop police from busting people for marijuana possession, Larsen is spearheading a revolution on behalf of pot smokers. And he’s hoping that the initiative he’s sponsoring to amend the Police Act will have as much success as a similar campaign to eliminate the harmonized sales tax.
“It’s very challenging,” Larsen tells the Georgia Straight. “The odds have been stacked against us from the beginning, but I will say the odds are much better now than when we started.”
The campaign received a boost earlier this year when Terrace cannabis activist Bob Erb promised to match donations up to $500,000 to Sensible B.C. Erb made the pledge after winning a $25-million lottery jackpot a day after Larsen spoke against marijuana prohibition in Terrace. “I had just left his town and then I heard on the radio that he’d won the lottery,” Larsen says.
To start the process, Larsen needed to have a draft bill accepted by the chief electoral officer. With the help of legal expert Kirk Tousaw, Larsen wrote the Sensible Policing Act. It declares that no member of a provincial or municipal police force “may utilize and/or expend any police resources, including member time, on investigations, searches, seizures, citations, arrests and/or detentions related solely” to possession of marijuana. The draft legislation also requires the minister responsible for policing to write to the prime minister, calling upon the federal government to amend the law within three months of its receiving royal assent so that B.C. “can tax and regulate cannabis using lessons learned from the regulation of alcohol and tobacco”.
Beginning in September, Larsen has 90 days to collect signatures of 10 percent of registered voters in each of the province’s 85 constituencies. That will require thousands of volunteer canvassers to gather names in their areas.
“We need about 400,000-odd signatures—that would be the minimum,” Larsen says. “We’re hoping for a half a million to put it over the top. Our goal is to motivate our base.”
– Read the entire article at The Georgia Straight.