John Gordon andand Mark Gueffroy are the face of queer in the cannabis community, united in the decades-old struggle for the legalization of marijuana.
Together, they’re running for the BC Marijuana Party in the upcoming provincial election; Gordon in Vancouver-Kensington and Gueffroy in Vancouver-Langara.
Gordon, 41, is a long-standing activist in the pot community and a medical marijuana user. Gueffroy is 20 years his junior and a non-cannabis user. They stand in stark contrast to each other, separated by two generations of age and politics.
“I don’t use,” Gueffroy grins, anticipating the puzzled expressions that normally greet this admission. “It seems pretty strange to have a person that doesn’t smoke pot running for the BCMP, but what I do have is a strong point of view of the positives that will result from legalization and the negative effects of prohibition.
“The use of crystal meth put me into the hospital three times and almost killed me,” the 21-year-old continues matter-of-factly. “I have yet to hear of an individual that’s ended up in the hospital from the use of marijuana.
“At the very least we’re wasting government resources, at most we’re violating people’s civil rights.”
This is Gueffroy’s first run at public office.
It is the second election bid for Gordon, a veteran pot crusader and well-known member of the Pot-arazzi. He writes a column for Cannabis Culture Magazine and is a familiar face on PotTV. His viewers and readers know him as Flash Gordon. He’s often found at BCMP headquarters on the Pot Block (the 300-block of East Hastings St).
“I’m running again because my riding has social problems that are a direct result of prohibition,” Gordon’s tone is serious. “I see the prostitution, the crack, the violence. I’ve seen people beaten outside my home by gang members. All the problems have moved into our Kingsway neighbourhood because of the crackdown in the Downtown Eastside. Over the past four years, I’ve seen it go downhill.”
Both men say their concerns stretch beyond the cannabis community. Legalizing marijuana will benefit all of society, they maintain.
“It may appear to be a one-issue thing but the ramifications of repealing prohibition will resolve a plethora of social ills,” Gordon asserts. “Solving the problem of prohibition is not an isolated thing.”
He notes that the money raised by taxing the production and distribution of marijuana in BC could raise revenue to improve health care, fund programs against hate, better fund AIDS programs and housing programs, and support social services in general.
He points out that cannabis prohibition is in a current state of flux in this country. “Right now we’re tinkering with the laws to make it so that demand is allowed-you’re allowed to possess marijuana-but the supply remains illegal. The supply continues to be in the hands of those who are willing to take the risk, and the higher the penalties get the only the people who will be willing to take the risk are the people who are involved already in organized crime.”
Gordon would rather see the income from the existing cannabis cottage industry in this province put into the hands of BC citizens than criminals. “Busting Ma and Pa grow-ops one after another is a waste of police resources and money. Simple regulation and basic taxation could reduce crime in so many ways.
“I’m not talking about sin tax,” he qualifies. “I’m talking about basic PST and GST, the kind you pay on your chocolate bars or Coca Cola.” Gordon insists this is not a pipe dream. “This money exists now,” he says.
“The war on drugs is costing society a great deal for no reason. It’s a self-perpetuating job-creation program for law enforcement. Every time police make a bust they can make it sound like it’s more of a problem and ask for more money to fight it,” Gordon says. “It’s one of those kinds of problems that perpetuates itself.”
Gueffroy easily sums up the school of thought in the cannabis community: “I believe prohibition is a waste of government resources, a waste of enforcement resources, and a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
So what’s stopping society from legalizing pot? Gueffroy wants to know. “It was proven 50 years ago when they legalized alcohol that it took away a black market. Why can’t they just put a tax on cannabis?”
He believes that what it comes down to is “the government doesn’t represent the interests of the people anymore.”