Marijuana legalization vote in Washington state cited as example for B.C.
Local marijuana activistDana Larsen is hailing a vote in Washington state to legalize the possession of cannabis as a victory in the global campaign to reform drug policy.
“I think it’s a positive step in that it will definitely show British Columbians that we can do this as well and there’s no reason for us to be afraid of the American reaction if and when we change the laws here,” Larsen told the Straight by phone.
“If American states are doing it, then surely other countries around the world can also take these steps forward too,” he said.
A majority of Washington voters approved Initiative 502 when they went to the polls on November 6. The provisions of the ballot initiative will make it legal for people 21 and older to have up to 28 grams of marijuana for personal use. They also regulate the production and tax the sale of marijuana, and include new impaired-driving rules to stop people from getting behind the wheel while high.
John Anderson, a criminologist at Vancouver Island University, said the drug-policy change in Washington will hamper organized crime.
“There won’t be any motive for people to buy from a criminal source when the state will make it possible for people to buy it legally, and it will likely be cheaper than what organized crime will charge,” Anderson told the Straight by phone. “I think that any fair-minded Canadian that is familiar with the link between the restrictions that we have on cannabis and organized crime—and the polling shows that most Canadians are—will see this as an initiative in Washington that should be replicated in Canada.”