Pubdate: Wed, 16 Oct 2013
Source: Nelson Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Black Press
Author: Jeff Nagel


While pot reformers have fallen short of their sign-up target for the
first third of their campaign to force a provincial referendum on
marijuana enforcement, they are ahead of schedule in Nelson-Creston
where over 2,200 signatures have been secured out of 2,826 needed.

Sensible BC spokesman Dana Larsen said the campaign had 65,000
signatures as of Oct. 9 - 15,000 less than their aim of 80,000 by the
30-day mark of the 90-day petition drive.

"We're a little bit behind the target we set," Larsen said, adding
getting canvassers officially registered has proven more onerous than

But he remains confident the campaign can succeed in getting the
signatures of 10 per cent of eligible voters in every B.C. district.

That would take 300,000 signatures in total, but Larsen said the aim
is for 450,000 or 15 per cent in each riding to provide a buffer
against signatures that are declared invalid.

The campaign aims to pass legislation that would bar police from
spending any time or resources enforcing the federal law against
possessing small amounts of marijuana. Its goal is to use that as a
starting point to work towards broader cannabis legalization.

Defeat in any single district means the petition campaign fails. And
even if it succeeds, a referendum is not automatic - the Legislature
could introduce the proposed Sensible Policing Act but not put it to a

If it was sent to another referendum it could be non-binding - the HST
referendum after a successful Fight HST petition was binding only
because Premier Gordon Campbell declared it so.

Fight HST also had many more signatures at their 30-day mark - more
than 300,000 - and wrapped up with 705,000.

"They got a lot more than they actually needed," Larsen said. "They
could have done it with less."

Larsen said canvassers have already got nearly enough signatures in
Vancouver districts like the West End and along False Creek.

Most Interior and Northern districts are also doing well, with about a
third of the signatures gathered, and campaigns are running ahead of
schedule in Nelson, Kelowna and Kamloops.

Suburban ridings in Metro Vancouver, including Surrey and Coquitlam,
have proven more challenging.

"Surrey is a bit of an issue. It's a lot of districts in one city and
a lot of people that we need."

Canvassers from Vancouver will be sent to those areas as Vancouver
ridings wrap up, Larsen said.

So far, Sensible BC has 3,000 canvassers registered, up from 1,600
when they launched.

Larsen expects the canvasser count will grow to 4,000 by the early
December deadline, but that would be well short of Fight HST's 6,500

Petition locations are on the Sensible BC website at
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