Editor’s note: This story appeared in our July 17, 2013 print issue in conjunction with the main story about a B.C. cannabis decriminalization referendum initiative. Please see that story first for details about the initiative.
Dana Larsen sported an untucked, wrinkly dress-casual shirt, khakis and leather sandals for our meeting at the Revelstoke Sandman Inn on Sunday. He looked a little worn from the campaigning, which included searching for local referendum supporters at the River City Pub the night before.
Like a whistlestopping politician, he said their quick tour of the region was designed to motivate the base, not necessarily win converts.
Larsen pointed to polling numbers, saying decriminalization is inevitable.
Why the decriminalization campaign, instead of a legalization one?
Larsen studied successful U.S. referendum campaigns and found it was the only practical means to the end.
He said the campaign was anticipating their end game, the 2015 federal election. The issue is a non-starter with federal Conservatives, but Larsen feels the potential is there in the event of a Liberal, NDP or left-coalition win.
Larsen, who makes a living running medical marijuana dispensaries, said even conservative voters were polling in favour of legalization.
He predicted winning the referendum would be a cinch; the hard part is getting enough support to meet the threshold to hold a referendum.
Larsen said prohibition only hurts everyday B.C.ers. “The police and the Hells Angels both like marijuana prohibition, because they both profit off it,” he said. “It’s a great make-work project for the police – it gives them all kinds of extra powers and funding. Certainly the Hells Angels and other illegal groups that grow marijuana also like the status quo as well, but regular British Columbians are the ones that get hurt, and that’s why it’s time to change.”