Cannabis connoisseur, edible vendor, and Wreck Beach regular Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon is running for Vancouver City Council in the October 14 by-election. Under the Sensible BC banner, Dunsdon plans to win the seat left vacated by Geoff Meggs.
I recently exchanged some emails with Mary Jean “Watermelon” and here’s what she had to say:
Dunsdon: Sensible Vancouver wants to help usher in new regulations regarding cannabis legalization yes. We want those regulations to be inclusive and achievable. Sensible really. We are also passionate about “harm reduction” in our communities. The “harms” that come mostly from Prohibition and not necessarily from what is being prohibited. We want to be a voice for sex worker safety, free and anonymous drug testing for the DTES, Housing First initiatives for the overwhelming homeless problem and affordable housing crises. We want to be not only the Greenest City we want to be the Safest City. Consider voting for me because I will bring a fresh, earnest, compassionate and evidence based voice to city council.
Caleb: What are some concrete steps you, as a councilor, can take to stop the city from shutting down 90% of the dispensary market?
Dunsdon: I know a lot about cannabis, its culture, its pitfalls, and benefits. I know that there has been a thriving community and economy existing in our province for as long as prohibition has been around. These communities have only ever operated outside of the law. How could they otherwise? If we do not incorporate them into our burgeoning new legal industry there will be mutiny, stifling any real progress and creating new black markets designed to undermine the “favoured few.” I can be Switzerland.
Regulations that imply cannabis needs to be more tightly controlled than tobacco or alcohol are biased and unfair. We will do much consultation from different neighbourhoods on their concerns but we strongly disagree with the idea that we need to reinvent the wheel on regulations for cannabis and its products.
Caleb: Would you consider yourself left, right, centre or libertarian? Who/what is your political inspiration?
Dunsdon: I am left handed. So I think in the right side of my brain. Politically, I love Jose “Pepe” Mujica, Bernie Sanders, Naomi Klein, Voltaire, Judy Williams, my dad, the people of Iceland.
Caleb: Some fear that eventually dispensaries will be forced to supply from LPs instead of their current “illegal” BC Bud suppliers. If Trudeau’s legalization doesn’t welcome the current illicit producers into the commercial industry, and so dispensaries are forced to make a choice, where would you stand?
Dunsdon: Weed is a lot like wine. If you want a cheap box of wine you can get that and if you want an expensive aged Cabernet you can get that too. Or, you love the 2008, didn’t love the 2009. Same grower, same grape. Different price, different opinion. When the dust settles and reason prevails marijuana should look a lot like the vintner association in Canada. Forcing people to buy “Walmart” weed will never prevail. Having effective, affordable, testing available to anyone who wants it can solve all those problems and then as a wise man once said, “Let the best one win.” Again if they seek to leave a huge percentage of existing players out they will only cause mutiny. No good captain sets sail with mutiny in mind.
Caleb: Speaking of Trudeau, what is your opinion of how he’s handling legalization?
Dunsdon: He’s probably doing the best he can with the knowledge he has. He should hire me to help. I could streamline this process more effectively and fairly.
Caleb: You’ve talked about a better municipal model regarding regulations. What does that look like to you?
Dunsdon: A model that doesn’t seek to continue vilifying cannabis after the science proves it is safer than opiates, alcohol, and tobacco.
Caleb: Do you have an opinion on municipal taxes? Are they too low? Too high? Just right?
Dunsdon: I do not own a home so I do not have personal opinions that way. I have been looking into municipal taxes, mostly wondering, where all that money is spent? So for now I do not have an opinion. I need more time to assess that process and how it gets distributed.
Caleb: Do you think the city should/could subsidize compassion clubs?
Dunsdon: I do not think the city should subsidize compassion clubs at this time. If, in the future, we want to use some compassion clubs to help deal with our opioid crisis because science suggests that cannabis offers “exit strategies” to addiction, then it’s definitely worth a discussion. Also, I believe the medical model will look quite a bit different than the recreational model considering we have socialized medicine here in Canada. How that works I haven’t worked out yet either.