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Legal pot push for Canada comes closer to reality

VANCOUVER – Sidewalk spats are nothing new to this city’s faded Downtown Eastside, and they appear as often as buses.

Outside East Hastings’ Vancouver Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary — one of many medical marijuana shops across North America that thrive, not without occasional police raids — owner Dana Larsen ignores a taunting critic.

canada marijuana pot reform lawThe passerby is livid after overhearing mention of Washington State — and Colorado — voting in favour of axing criminal penalties for the possession and sale of recreational pot. On Thursday, adults in Washington will be able to light up, as long as they possess no more than an ounce of marijuana — even though it conflicts with federal law.

“F— off with the f—in’ drugs ya goofs,” the man gripes at Larsen before trudging off.

Even on usually friendly ground in the Canadian fight to put legal pot in your pipe, some aren’t buying the dream.

But they’re in the minority as polls show Canadians — 57% according to an Angus Reid Public Opinion survey last week that found Americans are at 54% — support outright legalizing weed.

A good number of politicians and public health officials are stepping forward to agree. Then there’s the many nations that have decriminalized personal pot use, or at least are considering it.

So lately, activists believe a pot-friendlier Canada is as inevitable as Vancouver rain.

Down the street, inside the Marc Emery Cannabis Culture store, 22-year-old Tiffany Kawaja demonstrates ‘dabbing’ honey oil — vaporizing marijuana concentrate with a torch.

Remember the hit you never inhaled in college? This is not that.

Nearby, two young men stare at her as if Jessica Alba were lighting up.

“I’m so happy,” the shop-keeper says of progress in the fight for legal weed, while drawing in powerful fumes. “I never thought it would happen so early in my life.”

There’s now that chance.

Next year, Larsen hopes to use his province’s unique citizen’s initiative to force a referendum on decriminalization. He’ll need to collect signatures of 10% of voters in 90 days.

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