Pubdate: Sat, 25 Mar 2017
Source: Telegram, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2017 The Telegram
Author: Rosie Mullaley
Page: A1


Dana Larsen, the British Columbia man who calls himself a cannabis
crusader, will be in St. John's this weekend spreading his message of
cannabis freedom as part of his cross-country campaign.

But the police officer heading this province's drug unit is warning
the public to be leery of what Larsen has to say.

RNC Supt. Marlene Jesso is concerned Larsen may send the wrong message
to people when it comes to the legalization of marijuana.

"It's not against the law for him to come down here and speak to
people," said Jesso, who is in charge of the Newfoundland and Labrador
combined forces special enforcement unit, a joint RCMP-RNC team.

"But people have to understand that when it comes to the legalization
of marijuana, only the government can decide what can and cannot be
done, not Dana Larsen."

In keeping with an election promise, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's
Liberal government will legalize the recreational possession of
marijuana and regulate the sale of it in the near future. The federal
government is set to introduce legislation regulating the sale of
marijuana in the coming months.

Larsen - a longtime activist who has pushed for pot legalization for
years and says civil disobedience has triggered change - is on a
national Overgrow Canada tour of 23 cities to speak about cannabis
reform and to give away free cannabis seeds.

"I am calling on all freedom-loving Canadians to grow a cannabis
victory garden in 2017," he wrote on his Overgrow Canada website.

Larsen is scheduled to speak at the Comfort Inn Hall on Airport Road
in St. John's on Saturday at 7 p.m.

As part of his speech, he will touch on topics such as the hidden
history of cannabis and what's going on with legalization.

According to his news release, another topic he plans to speak about
is how to open your own dispensary. That concerns Jesso, who was one
of only nine Canadians appointed to serve on a task force formed to
advise the federal government on how to legalize and regulate
marijuana. Input from the task force, which was comprised of experts
in public health and substance abuse, will help the government
determine the regulations.

"Once legalization comes into effect, not everybody will be able to
open up their own dispensary here. The provincial government and
municipalities will decide that.

"There will be strict regulations in place," said Jesso, who has been
in drug enforcement for more than a decade.

"Mr. Larsen can't just come here and tell people what they can and
cannot do. Nobody can make those calls until government finalizes its

When asked about Larsen's plans to distribute free cannabis seeds,
Jesso replied, "That would be trafficking and that's all I will say
about that."
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