Dana Larsen: A fresh vision of direct democracy, regulated marijuana for B.C.

I am running for the leadership of the B.C. NDP because I offer a fresh vision for my party and our province. My campaign will engage those who feel disenfranchised and cynical about the state of politics in B.C.

I have been a community organizer and activist for all of my adult life. Over my career I have worked as a journalist, editor, and small business owner. For the past two years I have served as director and manager of the Vancouver Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary Society, which serves 2,500 patients across the Lower Mainland from two locations. I am honoured to assist so many suffering patients to access the benefits of this amazing medicinal herb.

My leadership campaign is based on four principles: democracy, sustainability, social justice, and being smart on crime.

In terms of democracy, I believe that the people of B.C. should be able to vote more often on the issues of the day, through referendums and ballot initiatives.

The NDP brought in our current ballot initiative system in 1995, but since then the only item ever to come forward for a vote will be the HST. I believe in direct democracy, and as premier I would lower the threshold to make it easier for a referendum item to be put on the ballot.

A common complaint is that our political process is “bought and paid for” by the wealthy elite. I would change this by banning corporations and unions from making donations to political parties in British Columbia.

As party leader, I would bring more democracy back into the B.C. NDP. I’d empower our membership to get directly involved in policy, using the Internet and other tools to ensure that we remain a truly grassroots party where every member has a real voice.

An example of the bottom-up way I believe the B.C. NDP should be run, I strongly support “Sustainable B.C.” which was passed unanimously at convention but sadly never made it onto our election platform. Sustainability B.C. says that every British Columbian has the right to clean air and water, adequate shelter, quality education, health care, safe surroundings, and active participation in the economy.

I also see sustainability as meaning we should preserve our public institutions for the common good. As premier, I would stop and reverse the corporate giveaways, to ensure that B.C. Ferries, B.C. Hydro, and B.C. Rail are maintained for the benefit of all British Columbians.

Social justice means ensuring that our poorest and most vulnerable citizens are not left behind. I advocate for a $10 minimum wage, indexed to inflation. I also support reforming our welfare system so that everyone is guaranteed an adequate minimum income.

Finally, I call for B.C. to get smart on crime. We need to accept the overwhelming evidence that more prisons and more police does not lead to a safe and civil society. As premier I would implement NDP policy to remove marijuana users from the criminal justice system, so that we could tax and regulate adult use. This would free police resources to focus on dangerous criminals and not pot smokers.

Taxed and regulated marijuana would also be a financial windfall that provided benefits to all British Columbians. This would allow us to pay down the Liberals’ debt and maintain social programs without raising taxes.

Being smart on crime also entails recognizing that prison is not a solution for homelessness, drug addiction, or mental health issues. As premier, I would tell Stephen Harper that enough is enough, and that the people of British Columbia prefer to spend our tax dollars on programs that help keep nonviolent and vulnerable people out of prison. B.C. should not foot the bill for Stephen Harper’s prison spending spree.

If you support the principles of democracy, sustainability, social justice, and being smart on crime, then please join the B.C. NDP and support my leadership bid. You can visit my campaign online at votedana.ca/.

Dana Larsen is a B.C. NDP leadership candidate.

Comments (20) Add New Comment
Christy Clark Fan
Dana, thanks for running. I think people want to see how a stoned MLA acts!
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ds
Add universal dental care to your platform. What dentists charge for dental care is out of reach for a lot of voters in this province.
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UWSofty
breath of fresh air?
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NoLeftNutter
Clearly the legalize marijuana crowd is too stoned to think through the logic of the free market, government regulation and taxation to understand that their plan would never work.
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Tecjlar
Clearly the American influenced 30+ year old war on drugs is not working. It's time for some innovative, non status quo, outside of the box thinking and government policies. Maybe people shouldn't be so quick to renew old "stoner" stereotypes.
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Bruno15
Clearly Canadian criminal statutes are federal matters and the future premier of our province will have his hands full with matters that actually ARE his or her responsibility. Regardless of how much one's very being is intertwined with pot, its decriminalization will never be a provincial matter.
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glen p robbins
CCF - I'll take stoned over stone cold stupid.
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Hank Boyd
Bruno15 hasn't learned much about the nature of Confederation if he thinks it's that cut and dry. Marijuana prohibition has massive effects on BC's economy and social fabric. Other provinces have leaders that stick up for their interests-see Quebec, Newfoundland, Alberta... It's time for BC to start actually making it's case and to address the fact that a major sector of our economy is controlled by organized crime. There are states in the US with more progressive approaches than us, so the sky is falling crap about the wraith of our southern neighbour doesn't fly either.
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BC can legalize now
So when Christy Clark and Kevin Falcon call for "longer sentences" for "drug dealers" that is Provincial jurisdiction? But when Dana Larsen calls to end the stupid war on marijuana, that is not provincial jurisdiction?

Provincial AG's have been supporting the Conservatives "mandatory minimums" for marijuana crimes, saying they think it's a good idea. So then why can't the BCNDP tell the feds that we DON'T want to spend our money on cops and prisons to enforce their ridiculous and expensive war on pot?

InSite is provincial jurisdiction, health care is provincial jurisdiction, medicinal marijuana at least should be run by the provinces.
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Dansk
Don't just maintain the social services at the current rediculous low level they are down to. Spend more to improve them, to get caught up on surgeries. We need more hospitals, better services and a timely medical system, not more jails. Spend the money on medical and home support, and the jails will be half empty.
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Janie Jones
"As premier, I would stop and reverse the corporate giveaways, to ensure that B.C. Ferries, B.C. Hydro, and B.C. Rail are maintained for the benefit of all British Columbians."

He's got my vote.
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RunningFrog
My understanding of the THC arguement is this,
a. When we legalize pot, this population will always fall to prostitution,
~ already proven through other countries and models,
b. That will never happen, it's too profitable; and taxpayers currently pay
for the fallout,
c. So what's really being asked, is for Canada to fund all/future
International criminals; where we should be DEPORTING them instead,
~ It's just another HI-JACK Program they're offering.
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Leonard Krivitsky, MD
In this society of ever-increasing stress levels, how can anyone possibly justify keeping the substance that promotes violence (alcohol) "legal", while insisting that the substance that suppresses violence (Cannabis) should be kept "illegal"! Total absence of logic. Cannabis is not physically addictive as it has no documented physical withdrawal syndrome associated with its use; smoking Cannabis has been shown to have NO connection with increased risk of lung cancer, the so-called "gateway drug" theory is a non-existent entity altogether, and Marinol is a synthetic THC analogue, which is not at all the same thing as Medicinal Cannabis. This is together with the remarkable medicinal properties of the Cannabis plant, the denial of which is not even a "rational" thing to do! It is as pointed out in the prestigious "Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook" that states clearly that "Cannabis use suppresses violent behavior and only the unsophisticated think otherwise". Cannabis prohibition is doing more harm to this society than many people realize, as the (young) people are pushed to "experiment" with alcohol/hard drugs or dangerous, physically addictive prescription drugs, many of which promoting violent behavior instead of suppressing it as Cannabis does. CA Prop. 19 directly challenged the DEA "dogmas", and it was the reason why it infuriated the "powers that be" the way it did! Unfortunately, many lawmakers are still swayed by the DEA disinformation in all these respects, but one thing is clear: just like KGB before it, the DEA will not be able to defend its mindless "dogmas" by repression alone; sooner or later the American people will clearly see this nonsense, and they will not tolerate it indefinitely!
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whatAjoke
...and his theme song should be, Puff The Magic Dragon ;)
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Patrick Scott
I hope that Dana does not plan on taxing personal production, just like they don't for liquor, you can make your own all you want. Just if you want to sell it, it is regulated by the Liquor store.
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tavisdodds
I am going to vote for him. His is the only campaign that even has the possibility of not being total sawdust. He is the darkhorse, and the only candidate I'd vote for to be NDP leader.
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audreylaferriere@yahoo.ca
And what about making it legal for renters to have comfort pets. audreylaferriere@yahoo.ca 778-329-1250
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karla babe
Mr Dana Larson

i would rather deal with a chip munching pot smoker then a drunk any day of the week!

how many legislators have gone to work after a drink or two at lunch? how many have a bottle or two in their office? the use of alcohol is no different then pot.. they both are used to socialize and anesthetize and impair the users to a degree.

i have long felt that pot is no worse the alcohol and tobacco.. legalize it or criminalize the other two! had our forefathers been potheads instead of drinkers and our modern day 'bad thing' was alcohol the cement heads of society would be protesting booze. (which greater reason i might add)

my brother has been using marijuana for medical reasons for a while now and i am very grateful he has it for managing the pain from cancer..

legalize and license prostitution as well.. make it a business not for the profit of hell's angels and other filthy cretins, but a safe environment for tax paying sex trade workers.. if we have learned anything about pig farming BC style it is the workers need to be safe... prostitution will never go away!

give the terminally ill people of BC the right to decide when, where and how they want their life to end! our doctors should not have to skirt the laws and do outright illegal things to help a patient end their suffering.. doctors with compassion should not risk criminal charges and medical licenses to help those that want it.. i now i sure don't want to suffer for a long time while watching my loved ones suffer along with me when we know the end is inevitable.. that is cruelty!

stop giving the province away to corporatos that don't care about the people that live in BC..

BC has the potential to put the rest of Canada on it's ear in terms of progressive thinking!
BC is a great province that has carved out a piece of the Global pie while being all but ignored by the east federally..
BC kicks ass!

Don't Puff and Drive Dana!

Cheers,
a 50 yr old NON user..
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high4u
well i have agreed with many of the posts above and just wanted to add my piece ......if you truly believe you can be premiere with these dreams i would fully support you dana but if i have learned anything about politians they SAY one thing and DO another...every time you guys want to get elected i hear we want to legalize pot but after you get in you say the feds wont let us .. do it anyhow with in the borders of b.c. cannabis consumption is legal as long as you dont toke and drive .tax it but legalize it ....its a million times better than cigs booze or anything else and we have a legislature that can pass a fed prov tax but cant make a law that says its legal in bc borders .and tell the rcmp and police to fly a kite when it comes to regulating pot heads .oh and pull there contract if they kill too many citizens while in custody or in the process of putting them in custody or just shoot them alltogether .........cops need too respect the citizens and the criminals(after all without crime cops lawyers judges and prison guards and parole officers would all be out of work )with the same respect as you would your grandparents until they give you reason for a beat down wich shouldnt be all that often .....also we need civillian oversight over the police in order to punish them for there illegal abuses of power on the street and in custody .
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k l abrahams
Ok, so maybe it wont actually happen in his term, should we be fortunate to escape the idiocracy of Ms Clark et al, but the idea of MEDICAL legalization is sound. I would tick that as a more-to-come agenda, and be fine with that. No one thought Obama would be president, so stranger (& just as necessary) radical changes have happened! Ms Clark couldnt even keep her video account up to date, let alone run a province, trust me! And Gordon Cambell gets to have jail-free, ....well, to be blunt... consequence-free DUI's and the rest of us can't use Marijuana to keep meals down while on cancer treatments or while recovering from eating disorders? Gimme a break!
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