Pubdate: Wed, 30 Oct 2013
Source: Osoyoos Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Osoyoos Times
Author: Richard McGuire
Cited: Sensible BC:


The winds were blustering and several times signs and a small table
blew over. But that didn't stop a small group of determined volunteers
from standing on Main Street Sunday to promote a petition calling for
the end of marijuana prohibition in B.C.

The streets of Osoyoos were quiet on a chilly Sunday afternoon, but
pedestrians and motorists stopped periodically to sign the Sensible BC
Marijuana Referendum petition.

Standing by the road and holding up a banner was Heather Pinske, a
27-year-old mother of a young toddler, who is the unofficial lead
canvasser in Osoyoos.

It's hard to find the time to canvass, she says, but petition
organizers face a tight deadline.

Sensible BC is trying to force a province-wide referendum on marijuana
using the same process that Bill Vander Zalm and others used to force
a referendum rescinding the HST.

It's a difficult procedure, requiring signatures of 10 per cent of
registered voters in every riding in the province.

The campaign kicked off Sept. 9, but organizers must collect more than
400,000 signatures across the province by Dec. 5 in order to force a
referendum. That could be an uphill battle in some parts of the province.

Pinske is confident that enough names can be collected in
Boundary-Similkameen, but regional organizer Amanda Stewart, who came
down from Penticton to help her Sunday, said more volunteers are
urgently needed.

"We're fairly lucky because our riding covers everything from Grand
Forks to Keremeos," said Pinske. "We did a bunch of canvassing at
Festival of the Grape and the guys over in Greenwood and Midway are
having a lot of success because a lot of the people over there are in
the demographic of old hippies and they've been waiting for it to be
legalized since the 60s."

The video store, Yore Movie Store, on Main Street now has copies of
the petition that people can drop in and sign, said Pinske, adding
this will make it easier to collect names.

Canada's marijuana law is federal, but policing in British Columbia
comes under the provincial B.C. Police Act.

If successful, the referendum would put forward a Sensible Policing
Act directing police in the province not to use police resources to
enforce laws against the simple possession of cannabis.

The campaign would aim first for decriminalization of marijuana
possession and subsequently at legalization.

Many people willingly sign the petition, but others are hostile and
one woman suggested Pinske was a pothead, she said.

"I said you don't have to be a pothead to realize prohibition is a bit
ridiculous," Pinke said. "I don't consider myself a pothead."

Pinske did admit she uses it recreationally "every once in

In Pinske's view, alcohol is much worse and more harmful to people and
society in general, yet is legally available, while people who want to
smoke a joint at the end of the day are treated as criminals.

She rejects the argument that decriminalizing cannabis will lead to an
increase in people driving under its influence.

Although she emphasizes that people shouldn't drive when they're high,
she argues those who do tend to be more cautious and drive slower and
are not prone to road rage.

She also disagrees with those who think cannabis use will increase
with legalization.

"Most people who use it are going to use it even if it's not allowed,"
she said noting that paradoxically it becomes harder for teens and
youth to purchase it from a controlled legal market than from the
black market.

Reaction from the public is split, she said.

"Either people are really great and appreciative or they're really
kind of negative about it because they believe the propaganda that's
been pushed on people since the 60s and 70s," Pinske said. "It's
either one or the other usually."
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