B.C. pot activist Dana Larsen charged with trafficking marijuana in Calgary
Larsen was on second stop of cross-Canada seed giveaway tour
High-profile pot activist Dana Larsen has been released on $1,000 bail after he was arrested in Calgary last night for handing out marijuana seeds while on a cross-country tour to encourage people to grow their own marijuana.
"You know, it's pretty clear in the Criminal Code that that is an offense. It's not really a grey area," said Calgary Police Insp. Mike Bossley at a news conference on Thursday.
Larsen, 44, was charged Thursday with trafficking marijuana seeds at a rally at the Days Inn on Macleod Trail South Wednesday night, which was attended by about 150 supporters.
The Vancouver native has also been charged with one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking. He is expected to appear in court on May 18.
"We will enforce the laws that are in place. That's really the message," said Insp. Bossly.
After his release on Thursday, Larson told CBC News the incident has only served to give his campaign a boost.
"The result of this police action is more awareness for our campaign, it'll mean more seeds distributed to Canadians, and as usual, this kind of crackdown and really extremist response from the police only generates more sympathy for our cause," he said.
Larsen said bail conditions now prevent him from giving out more cannabis seeds. And since police informed him they plan to seek a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail, he will abide by those conditions.
However, he called the situation absurd.
"I don't think any judge in Canada is going to lock me up for six months for sharing low THC, high CBD cannabis seeds for free to other Canadians," he said.
Cindy Heemeryck, coordinator of the OverGrow Canada tour, agreed.
"It's ridiculous. Calgary and their ridiculous rules," she said.
The campaign's goal was to give away a million cannabis seeds to Canadians to plant on public and private property.
Larsen said the cross-country trip will now be more of a speaking tour.
"I can't give away seeds or possess cannabis, but I can still talk. Most of my event really is about talking about the hidden history of cannabis in Canada, teaching people the story of how important cannabis is to Canada's history," he said.
Heemeryck noted the Trudeau government has promised to legalize marijuana. And in February, a Federal Court ruled to uphold patients' rights to grow their own medical marijuana.
However, Calgary police said it is "illegal to traffic marijuana in any form regardless of whether payment is provided" under the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act,
Police said a search of the Overgrow Canada van resulted in the seizure of 119 grams of marijuana worth $1,190, as well as 1,097 grams of marijuana seeds worth $30,000. A small amount of cannabis resin and oil was also found.
Another person arrested last night was released at 2 a.m. No charges were laid and their medical marijuana was returned to them, Heemeryck said.
Calgary was the second stop on the Overgrow Canada tour, which is due to stop in Edmonton next. Now, Larsen will have to come back to Calgary for his court appearance in May.
"I guess we'll see what happens," said Heemeryck.