He wants people to plant cannabis in public places.
Notorious pot activist Dana Larsen was in Nelson on Tuesday evening, and during his talk at the Prestige Lakeside Resort he distributed envelopes that included Ziploc bags containing CBD-rich cannabis seeds.
“By giving away these seeds and encouraging people to plant them in public places like traffic circles, in front of city hall and police stations or on their own property, I want to normalize the cultivation of cannabis,” he said during his talk, which was attended by approximately 40 people.
“I’ve been giving away these seeds because I want to take you to the future of the cannabis movement and where we’re going to go, to the positive vision we can all share.”
The stop was part of Larsen’s Overgrow Canada campaign, a civil disobedience project that aims to distribute five million marijuana seeds across the country in 2017. The tour got him arrested for trafficking in Calgary last year, but Larsen remains defiant in the potential lead-up to federal legalization.
He praised the six existing dispensaries in Nelson, saying,“It’s not easy to operate in the face of this sort of hostility.”
“Some of our dispensaries in Canada are 20 years old, but the vast majority have opened in the last two or three years, in communities just like this. Some have been raided or attacked, but the majority continue to operate and the ones that were raided have already re-opened.”
Larsen said, “The dispensary movement is part of our ongoing movement to liberate our plant and our culture through civil disobedience.”
The 45-year former leader of the BC Marijuana Party and editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine preached to a small group of friendly faces during the event, while weighing in on the recent arrests of his fellow activists and colleagues Marc and Jodie Emery. Coincidentally, the event was held during MLA Wayne Stetski’s telephone town hall on legalization.
He said these arrests, and his “silly little night in Calgary jail,” actually help their movement.
“It just draws more attention and sympathy, and people get activated in a way they wouldn’t be otherwise without that crisis point.”
Asked by a member of the public on his opinion about Nelson’s move to regulate the dispensaries, and to introduce a $5,000 business license fee, Larsen said, “Yes, I’m disappointed with Mayor Deb Kozak”.
“Municipalities often deal with these laws that are no longer valid. Bong shops all across the country get business licenses from their city councils, and they’ve quickly learned if they raid them they’ll get complaints but if they leave them alone they don’t get any.”
He said the federal government often makes choices that put an onus on municipal and provincial governments.
“It’s the federal government that passes these laws, but it’s the provinces that need to pay for all the enforcement. These people end up in provincial prisons paid for by provincial taxes, and then it’s the cities that end up dealing with things like supervised injection sites.”
He noted that safe injection sites are another example of local governments turning a benevolently blind eye.
“They’re not going to send anyone in to raid a safe injection site because they know they’re saving lives. These local governments are making these sorts of decisions all the time.”
Larsen floated the idea of starting a truth and reconciliation process for “people who were hurt, or whose lives were ruined, by cannabis prohibition.”
“We are close to reaching cannabis legalization and we can make this happen, but we’re not there yet. Together we can reap a harvest of freedom.”