Is Dana Larsen weeding out bad police policy in B.C.?
He believes he is. The cannabis activist traveled through Northwest communities, promoting his plan to see a referendum in 2014 that would decriminalize cannabis possession.
Larsen was in Kitimat on Nov. 8 at the library to explain his position.
The self-described Cannabis Crusader said his ultimate plan is to implement what he calls the Sensible Policing Act in B.C., the way to get possession decriminalized.
Because the Drugs and Substance Act is under federal jurisdiction, B.C. doesn’t have the power to make the substance outright legal, but the province does have the power to decide how to direct their enforcement of the law.
“It would basically instruct all the police in B.C. to leave people alone when it comes to simple possession,” said Larsen to the Sentinel by phone before his Kitimat appearance.
It’s not a far-out idea; he said in 2003 B.C., along with other provinces, decided to refuse to enforce the long-gun registry. He said he and his supporters are looking for a similar directive for cannabis.
There are a lot of problems with the system right now, he said, where people can get busted for possession. 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.
That harm includes difficulty finding work, participating in society or travelling out of country.
Larsen’s tour concluded on Nov. 16 in 100 Mile House but he said they will begin travelling again in March and meeting with the supporters they gathered on this trip.
This will lead to, he hopes, a 2014 referendum to support the Sensible Policing Act.
“It’s a big hill we have to climb,” he said, but he remains emboldened thanks to the example of the people who successfully lobbied for a referendum on the HST.
“Polls show we have a wider base of support…than they did to get rid of the HST,” he added. “I’m feeling optimistic about the possibility for actual legislative change.”
You can read more about the plan at their website, sensiblebc.ca.