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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"

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