Pubdate: Fri, 18 Oct 2013
Source: Maple Ridge News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Maple Ridge News
Author: Jeff Nagel


Sensible BC Campaign Short of Sign-Up Target

Pot reformers have fallen short of their sign-up target for the first 
third of their campaign to force a provincial referendum on marijuana 

Sensible B.C. spokesman Dana Larsen said the campaign had 65,000 
signatures as of Oct. 9 - 15,000 less than its 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 expected.

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.

In Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, 60 canvassers have been out in 
force, drumming up support for the petition.

Former municipal councillor Craig Speirs is leading the charge and 
isn't discouraged by the signatures his group has collected so far.

Speirs and his volunteers want to get 5,600 signatures in both local 
ridings - Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge-Mission - by the 
early December deadline. They've gotten 1,400 so far.

"These things sometimes have to get a life of their own," said 
Speirs, claiming the campaign will gain momentum as the deadline draws closer.

Speirs is encouraged by the diversity of people who are signing the 
petition - young and old, political neophytes and seasoned protestors.

"There are a lot of people who have preconceptions about marijuana," 
said Speirs. "This is not about opening things up for everyone. It's 
about controlling access like alcohol or tobacco."

Locally, the campaign has been door-knocking and hitting up community 
events to collect signatures.

Their "beach head" is the parking lot of A&W Restaurant on 228th 
Street - a location the anti-HST folk recommended to Speirs.

"It's where we are going to spend the most time," said Speirs. 
"There's room for people to pull over."

Defeat in any single district means the petition campaign fails.

Even if it succeeds, a referendum is not automatic - the Legislature 
could introduce the proposed Sensible Policing Act, but not put it to a vote.

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 more signatures at its 30-day mark - more than 
300,000 - and wrapped up with 705,000.

According to Sensible B.C., canvassers have already collected nearly 
enough signatures in Vancouver districts such as 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.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom