I’m very proud of the many activities over the years I undertook to bring the dream of legalization closer to reality. I wish I could be home right now to help with one of the most important cannabis campaigns to ever happen in Canada: the Sensible BC marijuana decriminalization referendum.
I’ve certainly done a lot in my extensive career. Some achievements that stand out in my mind are being a partner in the court case that legalized ‘illicit drug literature’ (High Times magazine, The Emperor Has No Clothes, growing books) in 1995; covering legal costs of the ground-breaking Parker vs. Canada medical marijuana court case in 1999; my Summer of Legalization Tour across Canada in 2003, where I smoked a giant joint or hit a bong in front of 18 police stations and one provincial Parliament to prove that pot was legal to possess at the time (and it was legal, despite six arrests and jailings on that tour, until an Ontario Court of Appeal decision reversed that in October 2003); and financing the Canadian Supreme Court Challenge in December 2003 (Clay, Caine & Malmo-Levine vs. Canada).
I’m proud of my Pot TV network, when it sent the first-ever cannabis videos ever out across the internet in April 2000 – a pioneer for years, ahead of anything else like it until 2006 or so when YouTube and Flash media made marijuana videos commonplace. The 75 issues of Cannabis Culture (formerly Cannabis Canada) from 1995 to 2009 are perhaps my greatest pride and joy.
It is fitting that in almost all of those issues of Cannabis Culture, my great friend and brother-in-arms was Dana Larsen, who was at the editorial helm from 1995 to 2005. Dana then went on to form the Vancouver Seed Bank in 2006, and then The Cannabis Dispensary in 2007, which continues to help people every day from two fine shops in East Vancouver and Vancouver’s West End.
I’m proud to say there are many activists who were proteges of mine that I can say were greatly influenced by me, or started out with me, including Toronto’s Chris Goodwin (Up In Smoke Cafe, Vapor Central), Hilary Black (founder of Canada’s first medical marijuana shop, still operating at Commercial Drive & 14th since 1999), David Malmo-Levine (long-time activist and rally organizer), and of course my beloved Jodie Emery, who makes me so proud every day with her brilliant work in the media on behalf of our movement.
But no one who ever worked with me has done more for our movement than Dana Larsen. Nothing I ever attempted comes close to what Dana Larsen is undertaking today and for the next 90 days, building on more than a year of preliminary work.
Today, on Monday, September 9th, Dana Larsen launches the greatest of all attempts to change Canada’s political landscape: the Sensible BC campaign, to essentially decriminalize marijuana possession in the province of British Columbia. Starting now, Dana and his crew of 1,700 canvassers across BC begin the work of gathering 350,000-400,000 signatures of voters in the province in an attempt to get a referendum on the ballot in September 2014.
Dana and his foot soldiers in this epic attempt have only 90 days to gather these signatures. It is a staggering objective. Of BC’s 85 electoral districts, Dana and his army of volunteers must gather signatures of 10% of the voters in every riding. Dana can spend money on the campaign bus (the “Cannabus”), billboards, advertising, and food for volunteers, but he cannot (unlike ballot initiatives in the United States) pay people to get signatures. Signature gathering must be done by volunteers.
This is the greatest undertaking in our movement’s history in Canada. Dana has toured British Columbia unrelentingly for 18 months to promote this ballot initiative campaign in the public consciousness. Now it must come together in 90 days. But the Sensible BC campaign urgently needs more canvassers to make this monumental task a success. He needs YOU.
I have no greater regret as a consequence of my imprisonment than my regret that I am not on that tour bus with Dana right now, going across BC to exhort the people to get this vital job finished. I’m so crushed to not be there with my great friend Dana to help this extremely important campaign.
People: this can be done, and it must be done. There have been hundreds of terrific newspaper articles and endorsements, a multitude of radio and TV interviews with Dana, and polls are showing that 75% of BC citizens support this initiative. But signatures don’t gather themselves; only you can do that.