Seeking signatures for a vote

Dana Larsen and his marijuana referendum tour stops in Parksville

Lasqueti Island resident Kim West can legally use marijuana to treat his pain, but that’s not why he attended Dana Larsen’s marijuana referendum tour in Parksville on Friday.

“What really got me out of bed and over here, it’s the mandatory sentencing, it’s total bull,” he said. “The wasted costs — the court costs, the policing costs — and just to think that my children could go to jail because they have a joint. That’s stupid.”

West was among a small group that gathered at Smitty’s Restaurant in Parksville to greet Larsen on his tour, which is making 15 Vancouver Island and Sunshine Coast stops in six days. Larsen is promoting a campaign to hold a marijuana referendum next year to decriminalize the drug. He said he’s hoping to attract canvassers to help collect signatures, starting Sept. 9, from 10 per cent of the registered voters in every electoral district, within 90 days. The HST referendum campaign is the only one ever to succeed in getting enough signatures to force a vote.

The legislation is called the Sensible Policing Act, which would stop B.C. police from making searches or arrests for the possession of marijuana by adults. The Act wouldn’t impact any of the laws around trafficking, possession for the purposes of trafficking, or cultivation. The Act would also take initial steps toward legalization, calling on the federal government to repeal marijuana prohibition so pot could be regulated and taxed in B.C.

Larsen said that possession charges have more than doubled in the last six years in B.C. and that the province’s police spent about twice as much time and money as the national average dealing with marijuana possession.

“I think that marijuana and drug-law reform is one of the most important social issues of our time,” he said.

Larsen said it is the right time for B.C. to make a change. It’s only a matter of time before places “begin to break,” he said, starting with decriminalization and then legalization. It’s already started in Colorado and Washington, he said.

West said he switched to marijuana from his morphine prescription to treat pain surrounding his protruding vertebrae. He finds there are no residual effects like stomach pain, teeth grinding and mood swings when he uses marijuana. The stigma surrounding pot use over the years has resulted in many people with pain not considering marijuana, he said. And a new trend, juicing raw cannabis, can have big health benefits without the psychoactive effect, he said.

Just Posted

The Parksville Civic and Technology Centre at 100 Jensen Ave. (PQB News file photo)
Parksville 2020 annual report now ready for public feedback

Documents can be viewed online; comments or questions to be submitted before noon on July 5, 2021

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased in Parksville

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read