Pubdate: Thu, 14 Nov 2013
Source: Voice, The (CN BC Edu)
Copyright: 2013 Langara College
Author: Amy Jones


Langara science student set up last week at 49th and Cambie collecting
signatures for the B.C. marijuana referendum

Sensible BC is under pressure with only three weeks left to double the
number of signatures they've gathered to get a marijuana referendum.
With the Dec. 5 deadline of the 90-day campaign looming closer, only
about 150,000 of the necessary 400,000 signatures have been collected
so far.

Sensible BC has been canvassing across the province since early
September to get a referendum to pass the Sensible Policing Act, which
would decriminalize minimal marijuana possession in B.C.

The current signature amount is not looking likely to pass the

"If we continue at the pace we've been at we're not going to make it,"
said spokesperson Dana Larsen. "We've got to see a big increase."

He has seen an increase in signatures every week as the number of
canvassers has nearly tripled to 4,000 from the 1,400 they started

"It's a time crunch for sure," said Langara science student Jennifer
Musto who is a volunteer canvasser.

"We just need as many canvassers as possible to collect the signatures
and get the word out there," she said.

Larsen says the referendum system in B.C. is designed to be impossible
to get on the ballot.

The 10 per cent of registered voters required to sign the petition for
a referendum must be spread equally across all 85 electoral districts
in B.C.

Some areas have enough signatures for their riding, whereas the
majority do not

Vancouver's West End has already produced enough signatures but south
Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, and Coquitlam are more

"It's a huge bureaucratic burden," said Larsen. "I think it's shameful
that our elected officials are making us go through this ridiculous

The signatures must be collected within 90 days and all canvassers
must be strictly volunteers.

Political science instructor Peter Prontzos says the time frame is a
bit arbitrary.

"As long as the support is there, what difference does it really make
if you got it in three months, or four or five, it that's what people

He calls the provincial referendum system a "really difficult obstacle
course for citizens."

"One would think you'd want to encourage democracy by making it easier
to have referenda," said Prontzos.

Despite the gloomy forecast, Larsen says they will continue lobby
MLA's to move towards the sensible marijuana policy.

"This legislation that we've written is not going away," he said.
"Sensible BC is here to stay."
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MAP posted-by: Matt