Canadians call for marijuana referendum after two U.S. states legalize it
OTTAWA — Canadian pot smokers and their supporters on Wednesday applauded the US states of Washington and Colorado for legalizing marijuana, and called for a similar change in Canada.
The youth wing of Canada’s third-ranked Liberal Party said in a statement the result of the referendums in Tuesday’s US presidential election “is an important first step and inspiration to activists in Canada who want to see Canada embrace a smart drug policy.”
“The citizens of Washington and Colorado are sending a clear message to the world today: prohibition isn’t working,” the group’s spokesman David Valentin said in a statement.
Valentin and others argued that Canada was losing billions of dollars in potential revenue from taxing marijuana sales while “wasting” money on enforcement of drug laws.
Legalizing marijuana would strike a blow to criminal gangs that deal in illegal drugs, and would bring an end to drug violence, they said.
In western-most British Columbia province, pot activists said after 55 percent of voters in neighboring Washington state approved legalizing possession of up to one ounce of marijuana that it is time for a Canadian referendum on the issue.
The Washington initiative also taxes and regulates the production and sale of cannabis to persons over 21, while making it illegal to drive while under its influence.
Colorado approved a similar initiative while another in Oregon was rejected.
“I think this is a huge blow against the war on cannabis,” said pot activist Dana Larsen. “We need to follow the example put forward by Washington state to end prohibition, to legalize it,” he told public broadcaster CBC.
Jodie Emery, the wife of a pot activist who was jailed in the United States for selling cannabis seeds from his Vancouver mail-order business to US customers, also told CBC: “If Washington is going to legalize it, well it’s our turn to do it next.”
Canada’s Conservative government and the official opposition have said they do not support decriminalizing marijuana.