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Marijuana legalization in two American states brings optimism for Vancouver advocates

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The legalization of recreational use of marijuana in Washington and Colorado is leaving pot advocates in Vancouver optimistic.

Yet many still believe that one major stumbling block is Stephen Harper and his federal Conservative government. Pot advocates think the Tories are determined to avoid the scenario here, and what’s more, crack down harder on users.

“My sense is that the Harper government is much more comfortable talking about the economy and crime,” said Langara political science instructor Paul Prosperi.

“It makes it an issue in a way that they would otherwise prefer not to have to talk about it.”

Pot use remains illegal in Vancouver

Marijuana use is still illegal in Vancouver, with the federal Conservatives seemingly planning to keep it that way for the time being.

An extract of marijuana. Many pot users in the Lower Mainland feel the Harper government is the final roadblock to legalization.  Photo: Ryan Banagan

Prosperi envisions that further developments in the United States may dictate what happens here in Canada.

“Once the debate plays out in the U.S. I think we’ll have a greater sense here. Whether that means we move to some sort of decriminalization in Canada, we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.

“My sense is that the debate in Canada might be helped by what’s happening in the U.S.”

Marijuana legalization “not true” for Canada

The Conservative Party of Canada has tradition being hard on crime and implementing severe punishments.

Jeremiah Vandermeer, editor of Cannabis Culture magazine based in Vancouver, has become increasingly frustrated at the Harper government and believes the only way to bring about legal marijuana use in Canada is for a change of government.

“A lot of Americans and Canadians who have a misconception ask me if marijuana is legalized in Canada,” said Vandermeer. “They say it’s pretty much legalized- well that’s not true.”

Conservatives “cracking down” on medical marijuana

“A lot has been done recently to go in the opposite direction of that. We have a Conservative government that is cracking down on marijuana users in general with their Bill S10 but also on medical marijuana users and that’s a big problem.”

Prosperi also predicted that the legalization of the product in the two states will reignite advocates closer to home.

Thomas Mulcair of the NDP and Justin Trudeau recently came out in support of possible legalization. Whether this is enough to overthrow Harper in the long run, remains to be seen.

A video looking at local views of potential marijuana legalization.

Reported by Ross Armour

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