Anti-drug activist’s Christmas gift of magic mushrooms and coca leaves irritates BC MLAs

Dana Larsen, a Vancouver-based anti-drug activist fighting for the legalization of psilocybin mushrooms, sent packages of mushrooms and a coca leaf to BC’s 87 MLAs over the holidays.

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A Vancouver-based anti-drug activist who mailed all 87 BC MLAs. C. An unsolicited Christmas gift of magic mushrooms and a coca leaf should be investigated for drug trafficking, says an MLA and former Mountie.

However, Dana Larsen, who advocates for the legalization of psilocybin mushrooms, said he is willing to risk legal consequences if it means sparking a discussion about the “ridiculousness” of Canada’s drug laws.

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Elenore Sturko, BC United MLA for Surrey South and former Surrey RCMP officer, said she was outraged to discover that Larsen sent the illegal drugs to the electoral offices of all the provincial politicians over the holidays.

Sturko said Larsen’s “publicity stunt” is offensive and irresponsible.

“The outrage I feel upon receiving these substances puts me in touch with something that may have played a role in gang activity,” he said, noting that coca leaves from South America could be controlled by drug cartels. drug. “I may have played a role in someone’s murder and that doesn’t sit right with me.”

Larsen sent each MLA a gram of “Golden Teacher” psilocybin mushrooms and a coca leaf, the unrefined plant used to produce cocaine.

He also attached a letter that said the Golden Teacher mushroom variety is commonly used for its “beneficial therapeutic properties.”

“Unfortunately, possession of even one gram of this mushroom is still considered a criminal offense in Canada,” he wrote.

Larsen questioned why the decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs in British Columbia did not extend to “safer substances” like psilocybin mushrooms.

“The idea that our laws treat the coca leaf the same as cocaine and that we have decriminalized the possession of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and MDMA, but not the possession of a mushroom, is very strange to me,” he told Postmedia News on Wednesday.

Sturko opened his package on Tuesday and immediately notified Vancouver police as the packages were sent from Vancouver. He was told to turn the drugs over to the Surrey RCMP, which he did. The VPD did not respond to Postmedia’s questions about whether it had launched an investigation.

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British Columbia Sergeant-at-Arms Ray Robitaille, responsible for security at the legislature, advised MLAs and their electoral office staff not to open the packages and to report them to their local police agency for “disposal and/or or investigation,” according to the Secretary’s Office.

In a statement, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth called Larsen’s actions “reprehensible and wrong.”

“The government has alerted authorities and provided instructions to the MLA’s offices on appropriate action to take,” Farnworth said. “MLA offices provide essential work and services for people in British Columbia, and this action has disrupted access to these important services.”

Sturko hopes police will treat the case not as individual incidents but as a drug trafficking incident with 87 different recipients.

Larsen, however, called Sturko’s response “over the top” and mocked her for using rubber gloves to handle the packaged mushrooms and coca leaves “as if it were some kind of toxic package.”

“I wanted to create some controversy and I wanted a conversation about the harms of the ban,” he said. “The overreaction that’s coming back… is a good example of the hysteria and lack of logic behind prohibition laws.”

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BC Leader Kevin Falcon with MLA Elenore Sturko.
BC United leader Kevin Falcon with MLA Elenore Sturko. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

In 2014, Larsen mailed cannabis to former British Columbia Liberal Premier Christy Clark, and shortly after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was first elected in 2015, Larsen sent him and members of his caucus release a gram of marijuana.

Larsen operates three medicinal mushroom dispensaries in Vancouver and the Coca Leaf Cafe. Larsen notes that the coca leaf has been used for thousands of years throughout South America for medicinal, social, cultural and spiritual purposes.

The businesses were raided in November by Vancouver police, who confiscated tens of thousands of dollars worth of products. Despite being held in police custody for seven hours, Larsen was released without charge and reopened businesses the next day.

The goal of his mushroom mailing campaign is not to get arrested, Larsen said.

“It is defying the law, and civil disobedience requires the risk of arrest and punishment. “I’m willing to take that risk.”

Sturko said he has met with researchers who are studying the use of psilocybin for the treatment of psychiatric and mental health problems and understands the evidence on its therapeutic uses.

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“But there’s a difference between medical research and even having a license from Health Canada, for example, to use psilocybin in therapies, versus just opening your own store and doing whatever you want,” he said.

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions said in a statement that it is working with regional health authorities, Indigenous groups and others inside and outside government to monitor the emerging use of psychedelic medicines in the province. Several British Columbia labs and researchers are also conducting research on psychedelic medicines.

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