I spent much of today at the Georgia Straight‘s Grassroots Expo for the Cannabis Curious.
It’s a two-day event at UBC Robson Square focusing on a wide range of issues related to a plant that is clearly very popular with the public.
Today, there were sessions on how cancer patients face obstacles in obtaining medical cannabis. I saw another panel discussion about women in the cannabis field, as well as a talk about how this plant can help children cope with a genetic form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome.
But it’s clear that some Vancouver politicians still have grave concerns about cannabis, notwithstanding its massive contribution to the local economy and people’s sense of wellness.
That was apparent last year when the Vancouver park board narrowly voted in favour of banning all cannabis-related events at beaches and in local parks.
One of the four commissioners who voted for the prohibition was John Coupar.
He’s since declared his intention to become the NPA’s mayoral candidate in the October election.
With his deep roots in Vancouver and upbeat demeanour, Coupar is probably the NPA’s most electable mayoral candidate.
Coupar is president of Novex Delivery Solutions, which is a courier company that relies on hybrid vehicles. It’s therefore far greener than its competitors.
As an NPA mayoral candidate, Coupar could credibly present himself as a politician who’s concerned about the environment.
That would set him apart from two other possible NPA candidates: former oil and gas lobbyist and councillor Hector Bremner and former Conservative MP Wai Young.
But where does that leave the cannabis community if Coupar became the nominee? Probably not in the best position, given Coupar’s opposition to giving it any space in local parks.
If he becomes mayor, who’s to say he won’t adjust licensing rules to make it more difficult for dispensaries to remain in business? What other restrictions might he have in mind?
It’s hard to determine because there’s no information on his website. He has been endorsed by former attorney general Suzanne Anton, who never expressed any concerns over the RCMP’s repeated crackdowns on cannabis.
In the past, NPA councillors have tried to delay the issuing of development permits to dispensaries until the federal government’s glacial legalization process finally reaches its conclusion. That should be another concern for people who work in this industry.
Coupar is clearly no friend to the cannabis community, yet he’s the NPA candidate who’s most likely to win a general election.
So what’s the best way to prevent him from becoming mayor?
There’s an option for those who are sick and tired of restrictions being imposed on a plant that’s a great substitute for those addicted to alcohol and opioids.
Cannabis can save lives of those at risk of dying from fentanyl overdoses. It’s literally a life and death issue for some in our city.
People who feel this way should seriously consider taking out a membership in Coupar’s party, the Vancouver NPA.
The deadline for signing up in time to vote in the mayoral-nomination race is April 29.
And after becoming a member, cannabis-community supporters should show up at the Hellenic Community Centre (4500 Arbutus Street) on May 29 and vote in the NPA’s mayoral-nomination race.
Here’s the way to really exert influence: cast a ballot for the former Conservative MP, Wai Young, if she enters the race.
That’s because she’s the least electable of the prospective NPA mayoral candidates.
If Young becomes the nominee, a pro-cannabis candidate like Green councillor Adriane Carr would have no difficulty defeating her in the general election.
Even someone with a lower public profile, like independent candidate Shauna Sylvester, would likely clobber Young, who’s far too right wing for most Vancouverites.
Coupar, on the other hand, would be a more formidable opponent, given his environmental record.
So why not eliminate him from the race before he can even get his name on the ballot?
Such a strategy would surely get his attention. It might even convince him to present some enlightened policies around cannabis in advance of the NPA nomination meeting.