Pubdate: Thu, 07 Nov 2013
Source: Chief, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Whistler Printing & Publishing
Authors: Tony Holland and Claire Lansdell
Cited: Sensible BC:



Here's what it's like on the front lines of the marijuana petition 
drive. There is plenty of support. About 70 per cent of those asked 
will sign. Some have heard of the campaign and have been looking for 
an opportunity to support it; they stop their cars and run through 
traffic to sign up. Others are cautious and need to read all the 
literature. Everyone has an opinion. We get heated discussions, 
insults, rejections and the occasional, "marijuana users should all 
be shot." Many think that B.C. has already decriminalized small 
amounts of marijuana possession. This misconception is held by those 
living in urban areas like Vancouver, where the police turn a blind 
eye. We point out that over the past eight years arrests have almost 
doubled in B.C. and even more stringent laws are being enacted. For 
instance, medical marijuana users must destroy all their plants by 
next March and the minimum sentence for possession of more than five 
joints is now a mandatory six months in jail. T! hen, to add insult 
to injury, anyone with a drug conviction cannot enter the United 
States for the rest of their lives. Ironically, just across the 
border in Washington State, any adult will soon be able to walk into 
a store and buy marijuana the way we can buy alcohol. These are some 
of the injustices and conflicts that most voters are already aware of.

It surprised us to learn that the best informed and most supportive 
of our campaign were over 60. Young folks are generally apathetic 
because they don't see a threat. Parents of teenaged children 
objected most strongly and we can understand their concern, but our 
campaign has nothing to do with permitting children to indulge. Some 
folks were paranoid about putting their name on a petition; this 
included convicted pot smokers who had been arrested years ago and 
had not been able to visit the U.S. Others had received an official 
pardon and could now cross the border, but recent federal legislation 
has put an end to that.

In contrast to the liberalization of marijuana laws in several 
states, the Harper government has been on a jihad to increase 
sentencing and has stripped many of the concessions formerly allowed 
medical users. Dozens who signed our petition had medical marijuana 
prescriptions for ailments ranging from cancer to lupus; their 
testaments were poignant and touching, with several claiming they had 
tried every other medical option and had finally found relief.

This is a subject that polarizes and angers. Even scientists are 
conflicted, with one researcher finding it harmful and another 
claiming it will cure all ailments. It is doubtful that these 
conflicts will easily be resolved but it requires the public's 
attention and that is why Sensible B.C. is trying to get a referendum 
enacted. All we ask for is a referendum so the public can review the 
facts and decide whether to continue spending tens of millions 
prosecuting adult users of a substance that is arguably less harmful 
than alcohol.

Tony Holland and Claire Lansdell


Sensible B.C.

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