Pubdate: Wed, 17 Jul 2013
Source: Victoria News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Black Press


B.C. is famed around the world for the quality of its marijuana, and
people here buy, sell, grow and consume it mostly without fear of
serious consequences from the law.

Elections B.C. has approved Dana Larsen's drive for a referendum on
decriminalizing marijuana possession - a reminder that pot remains
illegal, and unlike our neighbour in Washington state, our province
and country remain far away from laws that take drug profits away from

Any move to shake up drugs laws in this country is seen as a good
thing. But pot smokers shouldn't have a victory toke yet - it's not
clear this referendum will even get off the ground, and, if it does,
if the province will give it the time of day.

Similar to the ultimately successful drive to oust the HST, Larsen and
his supporters need to collect signatures of at least 10 per cent of
elected voters in each of the 85 ridings.

The gross mishandling of the HST by the Liberals made it easy to whip
up voter anger, and voter turnout. Many people in B.C. may support
laxer laws around possessing marijuana (or buying, selling and growing
for that matter), but the issue is unlikely to inflame the same
passions as a government perceived as dishonest and shifting tax
burdens from business to citizens.

The drive to create a marijuana referendum could help to get
voting-adverse young adults more engaged in the political life of B.C.
At the risk of glib stereotyping, hopefully the referendum advocates
stay focused and organized, and aren't smoking what they are trying to

If the referendum were to succeed anywhere in Canada, it should be
B.C. But even if Larsen and his allies win, the victory will be
non-binding and symbolic - the B.C. Liberals don't have to support the

B.C. may have a permissive pot culture, but this isn't the U.S.,
where, for better or worse, voter propositions are binding. And unlike
Canadian provinces, states like Washington and Colorado will defy
their federal government based on the will of the people.
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