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Chilliwack Fraser Canyon - Norm Siefken

Siefken leading effort to legalize marijuana



You might not agree with him, but Norm Siefken is the kind of guy that has an uncanny ability to make you laugh.

Rather than go door knocking with a handful of pamphlets, Siefken, who is the Marijuana Party candidate in Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, the riding which includes Pemberton, arrived in Whistler with a car full of signs he personally paid for, two bags of weed, a bong and his "campaign" stethoscope.

Siefken is colourful character, a huge man with a totally outlandish style. He is a headline waiting to happen, because he talks openly about things that would make many politicians cringe. And while his party might be known as the "one policy party", Siefken has a learned opinion on a variety of issues.

Siefken runs a marijuana-seed selling business in Vancouver and is an x-ray technician in Chilliwack. In the 2000 election he finished fourth in Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon.

"The seed business has always been a grey area in the law but in Vancouver it’s a very clear-cut policy there, there’s one district where it’s always been known as the pot block and it’s actually spreading out," said Siefken.

"Down there it’s kind of an unwritten rule as far as the cannabis cafes and all the seed companies.

"As long as there’s no marijuana being sold, the cops kind of look the other way.

"I only started because I saw all the seed businesses doing well but I thought I better get a piece of the action."

Siefken is running again in Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon even though his leader, and a lot of other people in his own party, do not support him.

At the start of this election the Marijuana Party’s western leader, Mark Emery, called for all the members of his party to back the NDP, because NDP leader Jack Layton said he supported legalizing marijuana.

But Siefken, who is now the Marijuana Party’s new western Canada leader, didn’t care for Emery’s decision and is now defiantly pressing forward with his own version of why weed needs to be legalized.

"I don’t see why Mark Emery is cheerleading with Jack Layton when Layton has turned his back on legalization," said Siefken.

"The NDP does not have a legalization policy… it doesn’t say a thing about it on their Web site."

When he’s not selling seed, Siefken is an x-ray technician, a skill he learned while serving in the U.S. Army.

Siefken took advantage of a loophole in the American enlisting laws and joined the U.S. military in 1975. He served with them until 1981. During his first three years he was a heavy-weapons infantryman/skydiver, and the last three he became an x-ray technician, after training at the U.S. Army Academy of Health Sciences.

Despite his military background Siefken, who is now 46, has strong opinions on the Conservative Party, the war in Iraq and the state of the health-care system.

"I think the Conservatives are a great threat to Canadians but not just in terms of military spending, my concern is with the Charter of Rights.

"When they were the Alliance Party I remember watching their convention and it was just one speaker after another calling for the Charter of Rights to be abolished.

"I don’t think that just because they’ve changed their name to the Conservative Party that their philosophy has changed.

"The Conservatives were also very outspoken about going into the Iraq war when 85 per cent of people were against it, so I don’t feel they’re representing Canadian interests. And I’ve seen that on the marijuana issue they almost sound like spokespersons for the United States."

Siefken added that he didn’t want Canada to be a part of what he called "American expansionism".

"When I was in the U.S. Army there was still the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Union was busy taking over most of Eastern Europe and… I opposed that.

"But now I think the Americans are doing the same thing in the Middle East."

Wars and health care aside; there is still really only one issue Siefken has consistently focussed on and it’s all because he was nearly killed in a car accident six years ago.

"I was hit by a car and broke my back in four places and thanks to marijuana I was able to get back to work.

"Before I was on marijuana the doctors had me on six pills four times a day – 24 pills a day.

"I was so zonked out I couldn’t even get off the couch and I was still in pain.

"It was only when I switched to the medical marijuana that I was able to get off the pills and get pain-free for the first time, and that was about six to eight months after the accident.

"Now when I have any kind of back pain or spasms the marijuana works very quickly, so within five to 10 minutes I’m pain-free."

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