Pubdate: Tue, 27 Aug 2013
Source: Nanaimo News Bulletin (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013, BC Newspaper Group
Author: Karl Yu
Cited: Sensible BC:


With canvassing set to start for a marijuana decriminalization 
referendum, the man spearheading the effort was in Nanaimo soliciting 
volunteers Thursday.

Beginning Sept. 9, the campaign will have 90 days to gather about 
400,000 signatures and Dana Larsen, director of the Sensible BC 
campaign for a marijuana referendum, said it is more than just 
getting people to sign a petition.

"We're going to need a couple thousand canvassers all around the 
province to make this succeed," Larsen said. "It's a very complicated 
enterprise. We need to collect signatures from 10 per cent of the 
registered voters in every one of B.C.'s 85 electoral districts. 
There's a different form for each district - they have to sign the right form.

"There's a lot of places to make mistakes and have confusion but we 
have some really devoted volunteers. We're educating everybody on how 
to do it properly and we're hoping we're going to have a really 
successful campaign."

Larsen said the message the campaign is trying to get across is that 
marijuana should not be a criminal offence and marijuana possession 
should be a low priority for police.

"We really want to work towards a legally, regulated system starting 
right here in British Columbia and we can do that as a province," Larsen said.

He said the aim is to have all the signatures collected by end of 
November with everything put together and brought to Elections B.C. 
by the deadline.

If the required amount of signatures is collected, Larsen said the 
Sensible B.C. group's legislation, The Sensible Policing Act, would 
go to the B.C. Liberal government.

"They have a bit of time to decide whether they want to introduce it 
into the legislature themselves or whether they want to have a 
referendum, which is what we're really expecting them to do, to have 
a public vote on this," he said, adding the non-binding referendum 
would take place in September 2014.

Larsen said more than 20 volunteers were signed up from the Nanaimo 
area and while people from across the province have expressed support 
for the campaign, the pro-campaign contingent on the Island is notable.

"I haven't done polling specifically to the regions but in terms of 
the number of volunteers and signups, we do have a pretty strong team 
out here on Vancouver Island. People are working hard, so I'd say 
it's one of our stronger regions," Larsen said.

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