Pubdate: Thu, 08 Aug 2013
Source: Chief, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Whistler Printing & Publishing
Author: Brandon Barrett
Cited: Sensible BC:


Sensible BC Director Seeks to Decriminalize Cannabis

Former NDP candidate and current director of Sensible BC Dana Larsen 
wants to legalize marijuana use in Canada and he wants Sea to Sky 
residents' help to do so.

Sensible BC is a Vancouver-based group that formed last year with the 
aim of working towards the decriminalization of simple cannabis 
possession in the province and a final goal of full legalization 
across the country. Larsen is now embarking on a whirlwind tour of 
B.C., visiting 32 towns in 12 days - including stops in Whistler, 
Pemberton and Squamish - to promote his campaign for a marijuana referendum.

"Our goal is to get signatures and support in every single electoral 
district in the province, so we need volunteers on the ground in 
every town and community, and certainly Whistler is an important 
place for us," said Larsen.

The activist is trying to register at least 5,000 canvassers across 
B.C. to seek signatures in support of legislation Larsen has 
prepared, called The Sensible Policing Act. Larsen's proposal would 
effectively decriminalize marijuana by preventing police from making 
searches or arrests for simple possession. The proposed law has been 
accepted by Elections BC, and Larsen will have 90 days from Sept. 9 
to collect signatures from at least 10 per cent of registered voters 
in every electoral district - around 400,000 in total.

Provincial officials could either nix the proposed legislation or 
pass it into law, and also have the option of opening the issue to a 
public vote with a referendum, the most likely scenario in Larsen's mind.

"(The province) has the option of just killing it even if we do get 
the signatures, but I would expect that would be a huge affront to 
the democratic process and what people expect out of their 
government," he said. "There would certainly be immense political 
pressure on them just to have a vote on it."

The legislation, if passed, would also update provincial liquor laws 
so that possession of marijuana by a minor would be treated the same 
as alcohol, and would ask the Attorney General to formally request 
the federal government consider the repeal of marijuana prohibition.

According to a 2013 Sensible BC-commissioned study by Simon Fraser 
University criminologist Neil Boyd, the number of charges for 
cannabis possession in B.C. doubled between 2005 and 2011. The 
research also indicated that in 2011 alone, cannabis enforcement cost 
B.C. taxpayers about $10.5 million.

"There's no question that marijuana is one of, if not the biggest 
industry in our province. It competes with tourism and forestry, and 
we've handed that whole industry over to gangs - not only gangs, all 
kinds of people grow marijuana - but certainly the whole industry is 
dominated by those who are willing to break laws the most, and that's 
all because of prohibition," he said. "We should be bringing the 
industry above ground."

While medical dispensaries are technically illegal in Canada, some 
municipal police forces have turned a blind eye.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom