“We Still Have Decades Of Work”

Dana Larsen Photo: Facebook

Cannabis activist says two years into legalization ironically created more barriers

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Dana Larsen, who has organized 4/20 rallies in the past, says ironically, there was greater consumer choice before pot was made legal.

A few years ago, the Lower Mainland was home to dozens of cannabis retailers; however since pot was legalized, the number dropper drastically, according to Larsen — who estimates there are “less than a dozen legal shops. Certainly not very many.”

“Legalization should be about liberating people, about increasing access to cannabis or treating cannabis users with the same dignity and respect that we treat alcohol users and yet, there’s still so much stigma, so much punishment,” he tells NEWS 1130. “And that’s a shame because legalization and cannabis shops … can bring so many benefits and so many positives, and yet so many municipalities are still just very, very close-minded, hostile and against cannabis.”

Larsen suggests the price tag and taxes on cannabis need to come down and business licenses need to be opened up in areas where municipalities have forbidden shops or have implemented harsh restrictions.

“We still have years, if not decades of work to really create a fair and open system.”

Larsen explains medical users who lead the charge to legalize recreational use have even experienced more difficulty over the past two years.

“The shops that they’ve legalized are only for recreational marijuana, you can’t imply or give any kind of medical advice or claim any kind of medical benefit,” he says.”[Medical users are] having a harder time accessing medical cannabis … [because] most of the businesses that were providing for medical patients moved into the recreational market. If you want medical cannabis for some kind of severe ailment, you got to go to your doctor, then you’ve got to order it only by mail order and wait for it to show up, and the taxes are still the same on medicinal cannabis as they are in recreational cannabis. So there’s flaws all across the system.”

The flaws Larsen claims with selling cannabis is the responsibility of all levels of government.

“Every level of government has kind of failed when it comes to really implementing legalization in a proper non-stigmatized and fair manner.”

Larsen adds, he believes a majority of Canadians are still accessing cannabis outside of the legal system, “and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.”

The good thing about legalization is 50,000 fewer people are stopped each year for possession of cannabis.