Pubdate: Thu, 14 Nov 2013
Source: Merritt Herald (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Merritt Herald
Author: Michael Potestio
Cited: Sensible BC:


Local canvassers for the Sensible BC campaign to decriminalize
possession of marijuana have been pounding the pavement as the
deadline to collect signatures looms.

As of Nov. 8, the local Sensible BC campaign had collected about 900
signatures from people in Merritt. There are 35 registered canvassers
looking for people to sign the petition in the area.

As of Nov. 13, canvassers in Fraser-Nicola had collected about 1,200
signatures. According to Elections BC, there were 22,187 registered
voters in Fraser-Nicola in May of this year.

The campaign hit a bump when many of the signatures were rejected by
Elections BC, head organizer for Fraser-Nicola Leo Bice said.

"A large portion of the numbers we did have weren't actually eligible
for Elections BC," Bice said.

Some of the signatures belonged to people who are not registered
voters, while others improperly filled out the information required on
their forms, Bice said.

Many of the signatures gathered across the Fraser-Nicola riding had to
be discarded as a result.

"It was quite disappointing," Bice said, noting a few weeks ago
organizers had counted about 700 signatures and afterwards came back
with about 340.

Bice said most of the issues came from the Princeton

Bice said they need about 3,000 eligible signatures in Fraser-Nicola
to meet the 10 per cent requirement.

Another issue they've had is not getting feedback from Sensible BC
very quickly after signing up local canvassers, Bice said. Two
Princeton-based canvassers are still waiting to hear back from head
campaign organizers in Vancouver, three weeks after they sent their
paperwork in.

The initiative in Merritt has been heavily focused on going door to
door to get Merrittonians' endorsements, but canvassers also had a
table location set up outside Davis Leathers for a few weeks at the
start, Sensible BC second contact for the Fraser-Nicola riding Ryan
Chypyha said.

The Merritt canvassers have been going to every area of town to seek
out signatures, Chypyha said.

"We've been all over the place," Chypyha said, noting canvassers have
manned a table at Centennials games as well.

Chypyha said the Sensible BC canvassers in Merritt represent a wide
variety of people, noting canvassers range from people in their 20s
and 30s to the elderly.

"It's totally varied, and because this is kind of pointed toward the
taxpayer - why are we spending all this money enforcing the current
cannabis laws - it's attracting a lot of people," Chypyha said.
"Doctors and teachers and respectable people in the community are
signing this for that reason because it's not like, 'Oh, I just want
to smoke pot,' it's a little bit more than that," Chypyha said.

Chypyha also said the reaction to the petition from the people of
Merritt has been quite positive and non-confrontational.

"In front of the hockey arena or anywhere that we've been, no one's
asked us to leave, no one's really been confrontational or anything,
it's actually been really good," Chypyha said.

He said canvassers go out each week seeking signatures.

If Sensible BC receives signatures from 10 per cent of the voting
population in each riding it will trigger a referendum on
decriminalizing marijuana possession in B.C.

Canvassers across B.C.'s 85 electoral districts must collect 400,000
signatures - representing 10 per cent of the voting population - by
Dec. 5. Fraser-Nicola needs about 2,200 signatures to meet the
provincial requirement.

The goal of the campaign is to get the province to hold a referendum
and look Sensible BC creator Dana Larsen's Sensible Policing Act.
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MAP posted-by: Matt