Larsen lands in Kitimat to garner support ahead of marijuana petition drive

Dana Larsen signed on two more people in Kitimat Tuesday to get the province to implement the proposed Sensible Policing Act.

Dana Larsen signed on two more people in Kitimat to be canvassers in an upcoming petition initiative to get the province to implement the proposed Sensible Policing Act.

That adds to the few who volunteered during his earlier visits to Kitimat last November.

Larsen is the one who has been dubbed himself the ‘cannabis crusader’ and is actively seeking a change to how marijuana laws are enforced in the province.

He met with prospective petition canvassers during a stop at Pedro’s Grill on Tuesday.

“I think there’s a lot of support for the idea,” said Larsen about the feeling in Kitimat. “Our challenge here and in some other areas are to make sure people know what’s going on.”

When Larsen spoke to the Sentinel last November, he said there are a number of problems with the current criminal system regarding marijuana.

He said enforcement has done nothing to curb cannabis use, consumption of which has risen over the past 10 years he said. He also believes it’s wasteful of police resources, with a justice system already pushed to the limits.

He also said that recent opinion polls show a majority of people in the province support not charging people for possession or use.

“I would say the harm to somebody from getting charged and getting convicted for cannabis possession is greater than any potential harm from using cannabis itself,” he said in November.

Since then, Elections BC has approved in principle the petition initiative and canvassers will begin collecting signatures on September 9.

They’ll have 90 days to get 10 per cent of eligible voters’ signatures in each of the province’s electoral districts.

“About 50 [canvassers] in each electoral district would be good,” said Larsen in Kitimat on Tuesday. “If we can get five to ten people here collecting signatures here that would be enough, but the more the better.”

He said there are challenges to garnering support in rural areas, compared to urban areas.

“There’s a fear around getting involved in this issue which I find more prevalent in some of the more rural areas because the people who live here often work in an industry where they get drug tested and they feel even if they don’t use marijuana, they feel if they’re associated in our campaign they may be targeted or looked down upon in some way,” said Larsen.

The spread-out nature of northern communities also proves some logistical challenges.

But in his experience as a marijuana dispensary in the Lower Mainland, the plant provides a lot of medical benefit.

“Marijuana is fun, sure, but marijuana prohibition is extremely harmful and damaging,” he added. “It ruins a lot of lives.”

He said even non-marijuana users should recognize the policing policy is a failed on in B.C.

“Even if you believe marijuana can be harmful, certainly the policy should be to reduce those