Pot activist declares bid to lead B.C. NDP
Published Wednesday, December 29, 2010 3:36PM PST
The man whose candidacy for the federal New Democrats went up in smoke after videos of him doing drugs went public says he's the right person to lead the British Columbian NDP party.
Longtime marijuana activist Dana Larsen announced his bid for the leadership of the provincial party on Wednesday from the Vancouver office where he dispenses medical marijuana.
Standing beside a large notepad with the declaration "Vote Dana" written in blue and green magic marker, Larson told reporters he would legalize marijuana, reverse the privatization of BC Rail and BC Ferries and raise the minimum wage if he was elected as premier.
The 39-year-old is the first candidate to publically announce his intention to take over the party since Carole James resigned on Dec. 6. James has said she will remain at the helm until an interim leader is chosen in mid-January.
Larson, the founding editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine from 1994 to 2004, says he has support from many members of the provincial NDP party, but admits he isn't in the "inner circle."
While he purports to be a provincial NDP party member since 2003, Party Secretary Moe Sihota said Larsen may not be a legitimate candidate to run because he was declared ineligible to run for the party.
Larson received less than four per cent of the vote when he ran in provincial and federal elections in 2000 and 2001.
The former federal NDP candidate for West Vancouver left his dreams of Ottawa behind in September 2008 after media reports surfaced about his involvement in the Vancouver Seed Bank, a store that sells seeds to grow illegal drugs, including coca seedlings.
Larsen said he was pressured to step down after videos of him smoking a stuffed mouthful of marijuana joints and dropping LSD were distributed to mainstream media outlets. The videos were part of a segment on the now defunct Pot TV Network, a web-based video channel owned by "Prince of Pot" activist Marc Emery.
Despite his wishes to legitimize and regulate the sale of marijuana if declared leader of British Columbia, Larsen insists he's not a single-issue politician.
"Just because someone works in a certain field doesn't mean that's all they're interested in. If I was promoting racial justice or sexual equality doesn't mean I'm not interested in the environment or cannabis reform," he said.
The Burnaby, B.C., native penned a book called Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone in 2007.
NDP analyst David Schreck said while Larsen's leadership bid should provide "a good laugh" between Christmas and New Year's, he'll quickly be forgotten once serious candidates appear.
A recent Angus Reid Public Opinion poll found almost half of B.C. NDP voters would support MLA Mike Farnworth to take over the party.
Earlier this week, Peter Julian, the federal representative for Burnaby-New Westminster, says he's considering whether to leave his post and run for leader of the party.