Allan Boisvert doesn’t think a person caught smoking a joint should have it dog them for the rest of their lives.
Because of this, the Parksville resident and marijuana activist is organizing two public forums on the marijuana issue, featuring former NDP leadership contender and decriminalization promoter Dana Larsen.
The first of these is slated to be held at the Qualicum Beach Library on Friday, Dec. 7, from noon to 1 p.m., with a second event at the Parksville Civic Centre from 7 – 9 p.m.
The subject of the talk, Boisvert said, will be an impending provincial referendum on marijuana decriminalization.
“This is not just for people who want to decriminalize marijuana,” he said. “This is for all the people in the province who vote.”
The referendum, he said, will not seek outright legalization or even complete decriminalization. Rather, he said, it will seek to amend the Police Act.
“We want to put cannabis enforcement as the lowest priority,” he said. “It’s not decriminalization in the sense that if you are caught you get a monetary fine. It’s decriminalization in the sense that police procedures and priorities would put it to the lowest end of the scale, so there would be no fines.” Boisvert said the idea has merit in several areas.
“The drug laws do far more harm than the drugs themselves,” he said. “If you catch some poor kid smoking pot, it follows him for the rest of his life. Why do that? Tens of thousands of Canadians are already in that boat. They can’t travel across the border.”
Besides taking away the criminal sanction for possessing and using small amounts of marijuana, Boisvert said the move would also take away a crucial source of funding for criminal gangs.
“This is just the groundwork for the vote, which probably won’t happen for another two years,” he said. “It’s not a scary thing. It’s really a pretty sensible policy. The way it is now, the only ones making money are the criminals. All the profits go to them.”
The meetings come after federal Liberal heavyweight Justin Trudeau came out in favour of decriminalization and a group calling itself Stop the Violence B.C. —made up of former attorneys general, mayors and other high-profile figures — issued a call for cannabis use to be decriminalized in the province.
“It’s the sensible thing to do. For adults, it would be taxed and regulated, while the penalties for minors would be the same as if they were caught using alcohol under-age.”