I ran for Vancouver city council in a by-election and lost. I came in sixth place out of nine candidates.
I was part of a new civic team called Sensible Vancouver. We were excited to help steward in new regulations for legal cannabis in Canada at the municipal level, as well as contribute to other important council responsibilities such as budgets and finances, water, sewer, garbage services, infrastructure, and other important municipal issues.
Unfortunately, it is very hard to inspire cannabis enthusiasts to get out and vote, especially for a by-election. It turns out it’s hard to get anybody out to vote. Barely 11 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot.
The good news is we did inspire some of them—1,737 to be exact—and we didn’t split the vote to do it. Many were new voters who finally felt the call to duty. Am I sad I didn’t win? No.
My team put in a valiant effort. We printed thousands of pamphlets, posters, and stickers. We rented a 1962 GMC full-length tour bus and vinyl wrapped it with a massive picture of me and a list of our policies. Then we drove it around the city for three weeks like a moving billboard.
We amassed 40 or more volunteers who ran the phones, canvassed on the streets, put up posters, knocked on doors. Holy lick, did we have a lot of heart! We even put out a music video complete with an original campaign song by The Tall Brothers. You can see it on YouTube.
I personally attended countless debates and community hall meetings, visited homeless camps and overdose prevention sites, and talked to anybody who wanted to talk. Campaigning is a pretty exhausting program. The clock is always ticking.
If you don’t have people out campaigning, you are not securing votes. There is much naive optimism too. How could we not win with so many people volunteering their time? Easy. Money wins elections, I am told, not heart.
At every all-candidates debate, I would proudly discuss our passion for cannabis and its future. No other candidates would dare touch cannabis in their platform.
However, there was much agreement on the left about the decriminalization of all drugs as a meaningful attempt to end our current opioid crisis. Three other candidates had values that were similarly aligned with ours. If only they knew how important the future of cannabis is going to be economically, medicinally, and socially, we could all join forces.
Our team talked extensively about harm reduction with people from at least two pop-up cannabis dispensaries operating at overdose prevention sites around Vancouver. It was suggested cannabis was a part of that solution too. “Exit drug” is the new term. Check out High Hopes Foundation, Cannabis Substitution Project, or Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users.
Why did I run? That is what everybody asks. I had to think hard about that, considering I spent most of my working life selling watermelon and pot cookies on a nude beach or doing stand-up comedy.
Now, I own two candy stores. Obviously, happiness is my favorite currency. Politics is all about sacrificing popularity to benefit your community as a whole, if you are doing it right. Politics rarely embraces happiness.
I owe a debt to Vancouver. It’s the perfect petri dish, allowing Watermelon to exist and blossom. Somehow, I have cultivated a life that would normally seem impossible thanks to my city. I ran because I love Vancouver and I am as passionate about its future as I am about its past. I may run again in November 2018, knowing it is a long shot. I am naively enthusiastic that way.
And now, I leave you with this tasty suggestion for the holidays:
Rum Resin Balls Recipe
Ingredients & Method
- 1.5 cups of butter
- 75 grams of shake flour
Melt slow and low for approximately 45 minutes. After 1 hour or more add 12 ounces chopped dark chocolate. Let slowly melt with butter mixture. Beat together wet ingredients.
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1.5 cups of dark rum
- 2 cups chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup marzipan
Add medicated butter chocolate to wet ingredients. Mix well. Change to dough hook and add the following dry ingredients:
- 8 cups (34 ounces) of Nilla wafers crushed
- 3 cups (15 ounces) of icing sugar
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) of cocoa
- 2 tsp salt
This is a big recipe. It will make around 75-100 Rum Resin Balls depending on your size. You could half it but the holidays are coming and this will make you a hero/heroine.
The good news is they are kept in the freezer and can be served frozen since rum prevents them from freezing entirely. Eat them year round and be amazed.
You can roll your rum balls in anything you like. I have used shredded coconut, cocoa, chocolate sprinkles and sometimes if you are truly decadent crushed pecans.