Pubdate: Fri, 08 Apr 2016
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network
Authors: Clara Ho & Reid Southwick
Page: A3


Urges Canadians to exercise their freedom by planting cannabis

A marijuana activist says his high-profile arrest in Calgary has only
boosted the profile of his national seed giveaway campaign, which has
attracted new seed orders and several offers from suppliers.

Dana Larsen, 44, of Vancouver, was charged with one count of
trafficking marijuana and one count of possession for the purpose of
trafficking. He was later released from custody and is expected to
appear in court on May 18.

Larsen was arrested at the Days Inn on Macleod Trail South as his
Overgrow Canada event, dubbed "Free Marijuana - Overgrow the
Government Tour" made its stop in Calgary, the second of 14 cities on
the tour.

"This kind of police overreaction just gets people worked up, and gets
me in the media all across the country," Larsen said in an interview.

"Far more people knew about this campaign than did ( Wednesday), and
far more of them are interested in getting seeds and participating
than did ( Wednesday).

"In that sense, this has only helped my efforts."

On the Overgrow Canada website, Larsen says he's giving away seeds as
part of what he calls the largest civil disobedience campaign in
Canada's history, ahead of promised marijuana legalization by Ottawa.

Larsen had originally planned to give away a million cannabis seeds as
part of the campaign, but he doubled it to two million after his
arrest in Calgary.

Insp. Mike Bossley said even though at least five police officers were
in attendance at the Calgary event to keep the peace, the organizer
began distributing marijuana seeds to members in the audience.

One man went out to retrieve more stock and was arrested.

Bossley said as the man was being taken into custody, the audience
left the hotel - led by Larsen - to watch.

The man, who was determined to be a "runner," was later released
without charge.

But after a Calgary police inspector spoke to Larsen, he allegedly
continued to distribute more seed packages at which point he was arrested.

"Everybody has a right to a peaceful demonstration and conversation.
So we allowed that process to take place," Bossley said.

"As that process took place, we recognized that the seeds that were
being trafficked essentially, it was articulated they were in fact
marijuana seeds. And as more and more information came to light,
officers took the actions they did."

Bossley said the event became "a little more excited" as it unfolded,
so additional officers were called to the scene for support.

A backer of Larsen's efforts uploaded a video of the arrest to

Supporters could be heard booing and shouting at police, although the
incident largely remained peaceful.

Officers also searched the van belonging to the event organizer and
seized 119 grams of marijuana worth about $ 1,190, 1,097 grams of
marijuana seeds worth about $ 30,000 and a small amount of cannabis
resin and oil.

Larsen said he has received many more orders for seeds and has been
contacted by people offering to supply additional seeds, after his
arrest. He said his bail conditions forbid him from possessing or
giving away seeds, so his campaign will give them away by mail order.

"We must not wait around to see if maybe ( Prime Minister Justin)
Trudeau will be kind enough to let us grow a few cannabis plants at
home," Larsen writes on his website.

"We must seize the moment, seize our freedom and plant our victory
gardens!" he writes, urging Canadians to plant seeds on balconies,
windowsills, in yards and "into the fresh air where they belong."

Cindy Heemeryck, tour co-ordinator for the Overgrow Canada campaign,
who posted $ 1,000 cash after Larsen was granted bail by a Justice of
the Peace in Calgary, said she wasn't impressed by her friend's arrest.

"Medical patients in this country have the right to grow their own
medicine and that's why this campaign was launched," Heemeryck said.

Lawyer Kirk Tousaw, who appeared in bail court by phone from B. C.,
said he opposed the bail conditions proposed by police, but was
unsuccessful. He said Larsen is eager to fight these charges.

"I don't see a conviction on this coming," Tousaw said by phone,
calling it a waste of police and court resources. "Mr. Larsen
possesses pretty good defences under the Charter."

Police say it's illegal to traffic marijuana, and they will continue
enforcing the law.

- - With files from Kevin Martin
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt