Dana Larsen, pot activist, sends weed to Liberal MPs in legalization push
'I do not expect to hear from the police over this,' former NDP candidate says of unusual book promotion
A well-known advocate for marijuana legalization has sent a sample to every Liberal MP to "refamiliarize" them with the substance's "pleasant effects" — and remind them to keep their election promises.
Dana Larsen — a founding member of the Marijuana Party who went on to run federally for the NDP and contest the B.C. NDP leadership — mailed all 184 federal Liberal MPs a gram of dried marijuana along with a copy of his new book Cannabis in Canada - The Illustrated History.
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"Since they are soon to be legalizing cannabis it is a good time for them to learn about the history of how cannabis is such an important part of our country's history," Larsen wrote to Radio-Canada.
"I included a gram for them because it is also a good time for them to refamiliarize themselves with the pleasant effects of cannabis, and to remember why so many Canadians enjoy using cannabis for medicine and relaxation."
The packages were sent to each MP's constituency offices, bypassing any shared mailroom security for their offices on Parliament Hill.
Patrick McDonell, the deputy sergeant-at-arms and corporate security officer for the House of Commons, circulated an email to MPs on Tuesday saying: "If you are in a constituency office and receive such a package, please contact your local law enforcement agency immediately to properly dispose of the package," because his officers do not have the jurisdiction to screen incoming mail in local ridings.
It's unknown whether all 184 packages got through, or how many MP offices contacted the authorities as directed.
While it's not legal to mail marijuana, Larsen wrote to Radio-Canada "I do not expect to hear from the police over this. I am sure they have much more important things to do."
'Haven't smoked it (yet)'
The unsolicited tokens are worth about $800, Larsen said.
One rookie MP from Toronto, Nate Erskine-Smith, appeared enthusiastic about his gift, first tweeting:
Thanks for the gift <a href="https://twitter.com/DanaLarsen">@DanaLarsen</a>! Received, but haven't smoked it (yet). <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LegalizeIt?src=hash">#LegalizeIt</a> <a href="https://t.co/j8oNt2u8y0">https://t.co/j8oNt2u8y0</a>—@beynate
He later wrote on Twitter:
On a serious note, thousands of Canadians are charged every year for marijuana possession. A sensible policy is long overdue. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LegalizeIt?src=hash">#LegalizeIt</a>—@beynate
The Trudeau government's pledge to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana appears likely to consume plenty of political oxygen as the new government gets down to business on its election promises in 2016.
Trudeau has suggested change could come in a year or two. But a briefing obtained by The Canadian Press suggests the prime minister has been warned that Canada is currently a signatory to three international treaties that criminalize the possession and production of marijuana.
The Liberal Party says on its website that legalization plans will also include the creation of "new, stronger laws" to punish people who provide marijuana to minors, sell it outside the new "regulatory framework" or operate a vehicle under its influence.
Trudeau has promised to set up a task force comprising federal, provincial and municipal governments, while seeking input from experts in public health, substance abuse and the police, to design a new system of marijuana sales and distribution.
This is not the first time Larsen has sought attention by mailing pot to a politician. During the 2014 teachers' strike in B.C., he mailed Premier Christy Clark a larger sample, suggesting that smoking it could help the warring sides in the dispute ease tensions.
A few joints of Purple Kush could help <a href="https://twitter.com/christyclarkbc">@christyclarkbc</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/FassbenderMLA">@FassbenderMLA</a> resolve issues with <a href="https://twitter.com/bctf">@bctf</a>. <a href="http://t.co/KXF1BibiKC">pic.twitter.com/KXF1BibiKC</a>—@DanaLarsen
With files from Radio-Canada's Louis Blouin and The Canadian Press