Federal prosecutors drop appeal of ruling that dismissed charges against B.C. pot activist

The federal Crown has decided to drop its appeal of a ruling dismissing charges against cannabis activist Dana Larsen, who was arrested in Calgary during a national tour to give away millions of marijuana seeds to the public.

Dana Larsen was arrested in Calgary after handing out marijuana seeds during his Overgrow Canada tour

Federal prosecutors dropped their appeal of a ruling that dismissed drug possession and trafficking charges against B.C. pot activist Dana Larsen. In this file photo, Larsen shares his thoughts on the legalization of recreational marijuana with MPs in Ottawa in September 2017. (CBC)

The federal Crown has decided to drop its appeal of a ruling dismissing charges against a prominent cannabis activist who was arrested in Calgary during a national tour to give away millions of marijuana seeds to the public.

On Monday, Dana Larsen said he was served notice at his home in Vancouver and the case was to be heard July 2 in the Alberta Court of Appeal.

But after a subsequent review this week, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada said it is dropping the case.

"We have decided to abandon the appeal," Barry Nordin, chief federal prosecutor of the service's Alberta regional office, said Thursday.

"We are not satisfied that after a hearing of the appeal the result would be any different."

Charges stayed in November

Calgary police charged Larsen with drug trafficking and possession last year after pot seeds were handed out at an event as part of his Overgrow Canada tour.

Last month provincial court Judge A. J. Brown stayed the charges, saying the case took too long to get to trial.

In her ruling, Brown blamed much of the delay on the prosecution.

"Without firm, overall direction of the prosecution, the file has been rife with unacceptable Crown delay," Brown wrote.

Unlike a Crown-directed stay, where charges can be restarted within a year, a judicial stay dismisses the charges.

Nordin said the appeal was to have focused on Brown's findings about delays in the case, not the merits of the charges Larsen faced.

Marijuana activist Dana Larsen was arrested and charged in Calgary for handing out free cannabis seeds in April 2016. (CBC)

Larsen said he is pleased with the Crown's decision, adding he should never have been charged in the first place.

"I wish they had made that decision a lot earlier and not bothered wasting all this time in court," he said.

"The courts don't have time or space for these kinds of actions. They really should be prioritizing real crimes instead of these pseudo- cannabis crimes that aren't really hurting anybody."

Earlier this week Larsen said he was surprised by the appeal notice and wondered if the Crown was trying to make an example of him at a time when people are openly buying and selling marijuana seeds across Canada in stores and on the internet.

Will continue to distribute seeds

Larsen said he plans to continue handing out free marijuana seeds in the new year.

"I hope that police in Calgary and elsewhere will look on this decision and realize it is not worth the effort to come and charge me," he said. "Hopefully cannabis seeds can be de facto legalized."

Larsen served as editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine and was a founding member of the B.C. Marijuana Party and the Canadian Marijuana Party.

He led an unsuccessful bid for a marijuana referendum in British Columbia and has run a medicinal cannabis dispensary for seven years.

In 2011, he ran for the leadership of the provincial NDP in B.C.