CALGARY – A prominent cannabis activist who was arrested in Calgary during a national tour to distribute millions of free marijuana seeds to the public is heading back to court.
Police charged Dana Larsen with drug trafficking and possession in April 2016 after small packets of pot seeds were handed out to the audience at an event as part of his Overgrow Canada tour.
Last month provincial court Judge A. J. Brown stayed the charges saying the case took too long to get to trial.
Alberta’s Justice Department said Tuesday the Crown is appealing the ruling and a court date has been set for July 2.
In her ruling, Brown blamed much of the delay on the prosecution, noting the history of the case looks like “the route of a driverless bus.”
“Without firm, overall direction of the prosecution, the file has been rife with unacceptable Crown delay,” Brown wrote.
The case is being handled by federal prosecutors.
Larsen said he’s surprised by the appeal when more serious cases have been tossed due to trial delays.
“I find it disheartening that there are so many other cases in Alberta over the last year that have had charges dropped because of these court delays for people with accusations of murder, rape — serious crimes,” he said in an interview from Vancouver.
“But they are finding court time to deal with me and to appeal my decision when I am giving away low THC cannabis seeds.”
Larsen has distributed more than seven million free marijuana seeds to Canadians in 14 cities over the past two years, including Calgary.
He said Calgary was the only place where police showed up.
The aim of the campaign is to encourage Canadians to plant the seeds in public places as an act of civil disobedience.
“The idea is to normalize the presence of cannabis plants in public spaces,” he said.
The federal government plans to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in July.
Larsen said he can’t understand why the Crown came after him when people can now openly buy high-THC marijuana seeds in stores and on online across Canada.
“I am not sure if they are trying to make an example out of me to try and stop other people or trying to create a precedent,” he said.
“I find it bizarre that they are going after the guy who is giving away low-THC cannabis seeds, while they don’t seem to care about the many, many businesses that are selling high THC cannabis seeds for profit.”
Larsen served as editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine and was a founding member of the B.C. Marijuana Party and the Canadian Marijuana Party.
He led an unsuccessful bid for a marijuana referendum in British Columbia and has run a medicinal cannabis dispensary for seven years.
In 2011, he ran for the leadership of the provincial NDP in B.C.
— By John Cotter in Edmonton