As marijuana is legalized in two U.S. states, Canadian cannabis watchers react

“It’s fantastic news, Marc and I are overjoyed, a strong message has been sent that it’s time to legalize marijuana. It means that we should take a new approach ourselves and we will work on a Sensible BC campaign to legalize marijuana,” said Jodie Emery, wife of BC’s ‘Prince of Pot’.

She was in Seattle as a guest of New Approach Washington from November 5th-7th, where she watched as I-502 was voted into law, the same night Barack Obama won a second term as president.

She noted that just as American voters in two states chose to legalize marijuana, new laws in Canada took effect on November 7th, providing for a mandatory minimum six-month jail term for anyone caught growing six or more pot plants.

“We are going backwards,” said Emery.

As the news broke late at night on November 6th that voters in Washington and Colorado chose to legalize marijuana, pot activists and medical marijuana users, together with experts and seed sellers on both sides of the border reacted mainly with excitement.

In Washington, Initiative 502 passed with 55 per cent of the vote, and allows people over 21 to own a small amount of marijuana for personal use, removes the ban producing, processing, and selling marijuana, subject to licensing and regulation by the liquor control board, and DUI laws now include a drug-driving provision.

Meanwhile in Colorado, Proposition 64, which passed with 53 per cent voting ‘yes’, allows people to grow up to six mature marijuana plants privately in a locked space, buy it from licensed retailers,  legally possess up to one ounce of pot, and give as a gift up to one ounce to other adult citizens.

As in Washington, drug-driving laws are included, and Proposition 64 is seen as more liberal than I-502 as it lets people to grow their own marijuana.

British Columbia next?

BC is the only Canadian province that allows popular referendums, and Emery is working with the Sensible BC Campaign to decriminalize marijuana, with a vote being scheduled for 2014.

Meanwhile Vancouver Seed bank owner Rebecca Ambrose said that legalization in America would encourage more Canadians to grow seeds, despite new, tougher drug laws north of the border.

“It’s proof that our drug laws don’t work,” said Ambrose.

She also said many Canadian tourists could head south to enjoy a legal joint, putting cash into state coffers, and make politicians realize how much money could have been saved – or even made – by ending marijuana prohibition.

“We’re pretty excited to be honest, especially as Washington borders BC. That’s a big deal, as whenever the Canadian government talks about modernizing drug laws we get an earful from the US about trade embargoes and they economically threaten us if we change them,” said Ambrose.

The previous Liberal government did want to reform marijuana law, but the Bush Administration forced them to back off, and today PM Stephen Harper is moving in the opposite direction with drug policy.

What Ambrose now wanted to see was support from American politicians and public in helping Canada reform its own drug laws, saying that US drugs policy had prevented both the Canadian and Mexican government from legalizing or at least decriminalizing marijuana.

“We’ve been suffering under American laws as Canadians for so long now,” said Ambrose.

War on Drugs "collapsing"

More in Politics

Jacobs and Florida and Gehl oh my! Who really influences our local politicians?

Still undecided about who to vote for? Second guessing yourself? Who really influences and inspires those candidates who are running for a seat in Vancouver's City Hall?

Vanishing Vanhattan: Which candidates have the right ideas when it comes to our local economy and small businesses?

Retail gentrification is causing tension and concern in Vancouver's communities as development continues to displace local serving, locally owned, independent businesses. What can the City do?

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to host telephone town hall

Tonight, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson will be hosting a telephone town hall, answering callers' questions. He said he'll be talking about issues relating to affordability and announcing a...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.


The Conservative government’s position on marijuana is untenable.  They are trying to command the sea so to speak. King Canute Harper must recognise that marijuana is like alcohol in the public mind and so his anti-marijuana stance is doomed to failure just as Prohibition failed. It is time to legalise ‘weed’ and tax it as we do alcohol and tobacco. This is an opportunity for the government to show real  leadership while increasing tax revenues on a billion dollar business  that pays no taxes and diverts scarce resources from the real fight against hard and designer drugs that are a curse on society.


Sarich is a profiteering idiot that pursues teenagers sexually and lies about every aspect of 502.  I hope he rots in hell.

wish it was easier

From what i have read it seems to me that America is too controlling over what Canada wishes to legalize or what our beliefs are in different laws compare to what they have or believe. Each country has there own space and everyone should respect each countries choice, if one of those choices happens to be the legalization of marijuana. if Canada legalizes it, if America already legalizes it in some states, why not all, why not the whole country. The weed doesnt kill anyone, it actually helps people. America stops Canada from doing so, why..because it will hurt them in some sort of way? as a Canadian citizen America should respect the fact that i would agree on legalization of marijuana, i cant say for anyone else but from what i have read, listened to and seen, there alot more people that would agree with me. America allows people to carry around hand guns as personal pertection in some states, what does Canada say about that? and if we did would America care. You guys like your guns, we like our Cannabis. if the people had more choice in this world things would be different, i dont know why its notl like that. everyone in the country comes to a vote, not we vote for someone to say it for us and then it turns around in our faces. thats what i hate, they say we'll do this for you vote for me, we do and then its just a smack in the face after. how about we vote as citizens and it comes true and government supports us because the people have the power, we work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week on low income, we pump the gas and teach our kids, work in hospitals, we run the country and they get the perks. i would love to work as one, we all know right from wrong and we should all just STAND ON GAURD FOR THEE.

It is my understanding,

It is my understanding, learned from personal experience, that the people who protest the most, stand to lose the most. Prohibition is a failed idea, and the resulting drug war has increased public risk far more than drug use ever could. If we legalized marijuana a few things would happen, by taking business away from organized crime you would effectively remove their revenue. That revenue would then go directly back into the province, creating jobs, and possibly easing a already stressed budget. The public would then save money through lower court, policing, and incarceration costs, more money back to budget. More federal taxes would be collected, which means more money for the international banks. How is it that the federal government doesnt want to legalize? Is it because big pharma stands to lose a billion, or the international trades of opiates would take a hit (How much opium coming out of Afghanistan?), it could be the banks that launder the money pulling some strings, or maybe its their reluctance to stand up to the UN, and the USA. Whatever the case may be, the only way we will beat out the street and initial gangs (yes you CIA, and Mi groups), is to change that negative vote, to a positive one. Make it political suicide for politicians to support prohibition, start giving them the "your either with us, or with the drug cartels", speech until they believe it. I recently saw a great information resource, its called LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a very informative group of people that easily put things into prespective, they convinced me. (


why not legalize it and make money off it people are going to smoke marijuana if its legal or not , it makes no sense to waste billions a year on the war on drugs when we could be gaining billions and it could go towardz health care reasearch in cancer and millions of other dieases legalization could only benifit canada's econmy in the long run , legalization would also stop the gangs main profit which is marijuana if it was to be legalization it should be under the same laws and restrictions of alcohol and tobbaco tobbaco effects on the body are far worse then marijuana yet it is legal and it will always be legal because there making money off the taxes how many people do you see a year dieing from marijuana and how many a year die from alcohol and tobbaco marijuana would be a far safer recreactional drug then tobbaco and alcohol you only have to look at the stats and you will see why legalization wouldn't be such a bad thing not to mention our cloged jails and courts