B.C. VIEWS: Marijuana referendum misguided

"Sensible BC" wants to tie police hands, while doing nothing about sales to minors and leaving the money in the hands of criminal gangs

Sensible BC organizer Dana Larsen claims his petition is a step to marijuana legalization

Sensible BC organizer Dana Larsen claims his petition is a step to marijuana legalization

VICTORIA – I won’t be signing the “Sensible B.C.” petition to demand a provincewide referendum on marijuana enforcement. You shouldn’t either, and here are a few reasons why.

Let me start by saying I’ve been calling for legalization and regulation of pot for 20 years, to conserve police resources and reduce violent crime. Our war on drugs is a failure even for heroin and cocaine, and marijuana is obviously much easier to produce.

But the current effort led by Dana Larsen, B.C.’s clown prince of pot, is not only misguided, it’s dangerous.

The petition does not propose legalization. It seeks to impose a provincial law that would stop B.C. police from using any resources for simple possession charges. This would create a loophole in the federal drug law.

So what would that do? It would protect otherwise innocent customers of the current illegal marijuana trade, while leaving the criminal distribution business in place.

For a closer look at that, I recommend reports from the Surrey Six murder trial now underway, or the upcoming case against three accused assassins of Red Scorpion gangster Jonathan Bacon in Kelowna.

Larsen’s loony law would tie police hands when they are trying to hold someone on a lesser charge while they search for evidence of something nastier. This is a source of many simple possession charges today.

Police chiefs have a different idea, asking for the option of treating simple possession as a ticket offence to keep the court time to a minimum.

Both of these notions have the same obvious flaws. They don’t deal with sales to minors and they divert no revenue to government, leaving most of that in the hands of criminal dealers who buy cocaine, guns and fancy cars.

Colorado and Washington have gone the legalization route, so far without interference from their federal government. These states need money, and they don’t need more crime or ill-considered hippy gesture politics.

Meanwhile in Ottawa, Health Canada is trying to convert a poorly regulated mess of small-scale medical marijuana licences to a free-market system of commercial producers.

Local politicians tore a strip off Health Canada officials at their recent convention, after years of warnings that federal licences were scattered at unknown locations, often used as fronts for larger grow-ops.

Mission Coun. Dave Hensman predicted that when a grower gets a letter cancelling his licence, he’s more likely to roll up a big joint with it than to shut down. Burnaby Coun. Nick Volkow suggested the response would echo an old Cheech and Chong routine: “Dave’s not here, man.”

Here’s another reason not to support Larsen: the conduct of his organizers.

One fellow set up a petition table at, of all places, the Terry Fox Hometown Run in Port Coquitlam. After scrawling “pot cures cancer” on the table, he proceeded to interrupt speeches by cancer survivors and the run itself by yelling the same false slogan.

You can imagine how people with terminal cancer and their loved ones would react. Some would know that marijuana may alleviate side effects of chemotherapy, just as it can ease suffering for some multiple sclerosis patients. But the suggestion of a cure is as cruel as it is moronic.

Larsen’s “cannibus” has been rolling around B.C., reaping uncritical media coverage. It even blundered into the recent Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver, an event to mark the end of federal hearings into the effects of residential schools on aboriginal children.

I wouldn’t support the Larsen bunch for anything, unless it involved them looking for jobs. Just say no.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalNews.com

 

Just Posted

Nanaimo is the first city in Canada to subscribe to the Chonolog environment photo-monitoring system, which allow residents to contribute photos of habitat restoration projects that are converted to time lapse sequences showing environmental changes. (Chris Bush/ News Bulletin)
Nanaimo residents invited to be citizen scientists by sharing habitat restoration photos

Nanaimo first city in Canada to sign up for Chronolog environment photo monitoring service

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Nanaimo residents on edge of city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read