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Pro pot activist won't take second shot at BC NDP leadership

Marijuana activist Dana Larsen said he's unlikely to take another run at becoming leader of the British Columbia New Democratic Party, but MLA and potential candidate David Eby has a strong record fighting prohibition.

"I've thought about it, but I don't think I'm going to be running this time," Larsen told The Tyee during a Sensible B.C. rally of a couple hundred activists outside the B.C. legislature promoting the decriminalization of marijuana.

"I accomplished a lot of what I wanted to accomplish last time, but I am surprised that nobody's running at all, that it's such a dead field right now," said Larsen. "That makes me think I should toss my hat in the ring."

In 2011 Larsen competed to replace Carole James in the race Adrian Dix eventually won. Following the NDP's loss of the May, 2013, election Dix stepped down. Party members will make a leadership decision in September, but so far no candidates have formally announced an intention to run.

Larsen said the $25,000 entry fee is the highest it's ever been and a significant hike from the $15,000 last time. He called the fee "prohibitive."

"The only person with any kind of focus on drug policy who potentially could run is David Eby," said Larsen. "He's been outspoken, not since he's become an MLA, but certainly as head of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association he was often talking about legalizing all drugs or at least stopping prohibition on all drugs and all substances, but we'll see what he wants to do as leader."

Larsen is a former editor of Cannabis Culture magazine and a founder of both the Marijuana Party of Canada and the B.C. Marijuana Party. "I don't think there's going to be a marijuana type person like me on the ballot this time," he said. "I could possibly change my mind, but just looking at the effort and that involved I don't know if it's worth it for me this time."

He also mentioned that he's going as an observer to the federal Liberal convention in Montreal, scheduled for Feb. 20 to 23. "I'm glad [leader Justin] Trudeau is saying all the right things on marijuana."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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