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Pot-smoking video, coca sales drive Dana Larsen from NDP

The New Democratic Party will be seeking a new candidate for the riding of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast after Dana Larsen submitted his resignation in light of revelations that he had helped set up a seed company that may have sold coca – the plant from which cocaine can be extracted.

And on Wednesday evening, an old video surfaced that reportedly shows Larsen lighting a mouth full of joints, taking hallucinogenic drugs and driving while stoned.

When Larsen joined the New Democratic Party, he came on board as a well-known marijuana advocate. The former editor of Cannabis Culture magazine had played a founding role in both the Marijuana Party of Canada and its BC counterpart, running as a candidate for the latter in the 2001 provincial election.

However, it was Larsen’s work with the Vancouver Seed Bank, first as a founder then manager, that gave the NDP second thoughts about his federal campaign.

The cannabis-friendly company helps sell a wide variety of products including marijuana seeds and Peruvian torch, a drug which contains mescaline.

“Rent a vaporizer or just roll a joint, while you enjoy a smoothie or an espresso. (We do not sell marijuana.),” reads a line from its website.

New Democratic Party campaign spokesperson Brad Lavigne told The Tyee that the party became concerned when it found out that Larsen’s old employer also sold coca plants, which contain cocaine alkaloids.

“This did not conform to the policies or direction of the New Democratic Party,” Lavigne said.

When asked whether the NDP condoned marijuana but not cocaine, Lavigne replied: “Neither I nor the party are saying what’s legal or illegal.”

Coca leaves have been chewed by Andean Indians for thousands years; the leaves were used as a pain reliever and a mild stimulant. Europeans began refining cocoa into cocaine in the 1800s. It takes a truckload of coca leaves, and an extensive chemical process (which begins by soaking the truckload of leaves in gasoline) to create a single kilo of pure cocaine.

After chatting with BC campaign manager Gerry Scott, Larsen decided to hand in his resignation out of fears that his background would draw attention away from the NDP’s national campaign.

“Nobody’s happy, but he recognized that this would be distraction,” Scott said.

The campaign manager was not certain when a new candidate would be chosen to represent the NDP in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast but he said the riding would be meeting soon to choose its course of action.

“We’re working quickly,” he said.

Geoff Dembicki is a staff reporter for The Hook.

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