Pubdate: Fri, 06 May 2005
Source: Prince Rupert Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Sterling Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Leanne Ritchie
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


The B.C. Marijuana Party has some ideas that could light up the North Coast 
economy, says the local Marijuana Party candidate.

David Johns, a 40-year-old flag person and longshoreman from Stewart, is 
running for B.C.'s fourth-largest party, the B.C. Marijuana Party, which 
has 44 candidates in the upcoming election.

"I'm running because they weren't represented in the riding, not at least 
until I came along," said Johns, who noted some people won't want to vote 
for either the NDP, Liberals or Green Party.

The biggest issue for Johns in the next election is jobs for northerners.

He said one option to employ laid off forestry workers would be to open the 
area to cultivating hemp, rather than timber, as a fibre source.

In addition, he said the marijuana plants in general act as both a natural 
pesticide and herbicide, which could prevent the further spread of the 
mountain pine beetle.

According to the B.C. Marijuana Party platform, if the party was elected it 
would invest in industrial hemp secondary manufacturing including oil, 
textile, fuel, paper and particle board production.

"Forestry needs to get stuff happening again," said Johns.

Johns is not a newcomer to the political arena. He has run for Stewart city 
council both as mayor and councillor, missing a seat on council in the last 
election by a small margin. He continues to be a regular in the gallery at 
Stewart city council.

While mining and the container port projects do have the region looking up, 
he'd also like to see the Stewart-Omenica Resource road completed, 
regardless of who wins the election.

"It's been on the radar screen for six years now," he said, noting Stewart 
has gone through two mayors, including Andy Burton who went on to become 
Conservative MP in Ottawa, and yet the project has yet to be completed.

"We'd like to get to work up here, definitely," he said. "We are a town of 
300 capable of housing 3,000. Our capacity is under utilized. It's the same 
thing in Rupert."

The B.C. Marijuana Party platform is based on the legalization of marijuana 
and the end of the persecution of the cannabis community.

The party's platform accuses the Liberals of behaving in a style similar to 
the federal U.S. government -- increasing the number of police to target 
marijuana grow operations, misleading the public about the links between 
cannabis and cocaine, calling for a registry of hydroponic purchases, 
calling for U.S.-style penalties for grow operations and encouraging 
foreign government police to harass British Columbians.

More than 10 million Canadians or 41.3 per cent have used marijuana, says 
the party. In 2003, the overall rate of arrests for cannabis use were down 
18 per cent across the country but up three per cent in B.C.

According to the party platform, in 2000-2001, government wasted $5 million 
prosecuting people for possession. For everyone who gets a jail sentence, 
it costs the taxpayers an addition $150 a day to house them in jail.

If B.C. marijuana growers are jailed for two years, importers and 
traffickers for one year, and those in possession for 30 days, as proposed 
under the Liberal plan, it will cost the province $631 million a year.

The B.C. Marijuana Party believes that by legalizing cannabis, it can save 
taxpayers money and stimulate the provincial economy.

The Fraser Institute, a right wing think tank, estimated the province could 
realize two billion dollars in provincial revenue from taxing B.C.'s 
marijuana industry.
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MAP posted-by: Elizabeth Wehrman