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Marijuana activist Dana Larsen has become the first candidate to enter the B.C. NDP leadership race, saying he plans to make marijuana legalization an election issue.

Larsen was a former federal NDP candidate in West Vancouver but pulled out of the race after getting caught up in a pot-smoking controversy two years ago.

He is expected to officially kick off his campaign on Wednesday morning, but on his website Larsen had already laid out his platform.

"I support B.C. NDP policies which call for cannabis to be legally taxed and regulated. Cannabis is British Columbia's biggest industry and it should be brought above ground," he said.

Larsen was a founding editor of Cannabis Culture magazine, a former president of the B.C. Marijuana Party, and co-founder of the Vancouver Seed Bank and the Vancouver Cannabis Dispensary Society on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Fringe candidate?

Former NDP strategist Bill Tieleman says Larsen has no chance to become the next leader of the B.C. NDP.   

"Well, Mr. Larsen is a marijuana advocate from his political background and I don't see that he's ever been involved with the NDP in any serious way in the past, so one has to assume he's looking for a little bit of publicity," Tieleman told CBC News.

But Larsen said he became a member of the NDP in 2003, has served on the executive of his riding association and has attended 20 provincial NDP conventions nationwide to enlist support for his legalization platform.

The party said it plans to hold a leadership vote to replace leader Carole James on April 17 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Several B.C. NDP leadership contenders have expressed interest in the job, including Fraser-Nicola MLA Harry Lali and Port Coquitlam-Burke Mountain MLA Mike Farnworth, but no one else has officially entered the race.