Pubdate: Tue, 26 Nov 2013
Source: Langley Advance (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Troy Landreville
Cited: Sensible BC:


Local pot advocate Randy Caine is helping promote a Sensible BC 
petition that would put in motion a vote for the decriminalization of 
marijuana in 2014.

William Austin wore a penguin suit Saturday while standing on the 
sidewalk along Willowbrook Drive.

The New Westminster resident made the short sojourn east to Langley 
to volunteer for Sensible BC, a group with the goal of 
decriminalizing marijuana possession in 2014.

Through collecting signatures on a petition, volunteers are 
attempting to garner 10 per cent support in all 85 provincial 
ridings, which Sensible BC hopes will result in a provincial initiative vote.

An initiative vote resulting from the current Sensible BC efforts 
would not be binding on the government.

The "cannabus," decorated with signatures and well wishes, was parked 
in front of the Hempyz location owned by local pot advocate Randy 
Caine, who helped man the petition table during the day.

Austin, who ran under the B.C. Marijuana Party banner for the MLA 
seat in the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant riding during the last 
provincial election, shook a Sensible BC sign back and forth for 
passing motorists to see.

So why the penguin suit?

"It's winter, it's disarming, it's non-threatening, it's better than 
wearing a pot leaf or a bong," said the bearded, bespectacled Austin, 
who added that sacrificing his Saturday, and an entire month for that 
matter, to support the cause is well worth it.

"I took a month off of work to volunteer for this," he said.

Austin said decriminalizing marijuana will immediately take away a 
lot of resources currently being "wasted by police."

"Every time a police officer stops and even says 'Hey, what are you 
doing?' to a kid who's smoking a joint, that's wasting resources," he 
said. "Another example is, whenever we're at SkyTrain stations, we 
have, like, four cops watching us. That's a huge waste of resources."

According to Sensible BC, charging adults with possession of 
marijuana costs an estimated $25 million per year in B.C. alone.

Austin also believes decriminalization will open dialogue with 
children about marijuana.

"You don't have to loop it in with cocaine and heroin and all that 
stuff, anymore," Austin said. "It becomes easier to not lie to your 
kids about it. Give them an education rather than taboo."

Austin began using marijuana for medicinal purposes when he was 20 
and said most shouldn't start any earlier than that age.

"Unless you need it as medicine or it's helping you, it's probably 
not best for younger people," he said, noting that's why 
decriminalization would apply to people 19 years old and older.

Marijuana has been "constructive" to Austin instead of "destructive," he said.

He was in a serious car crash that nearly claimed his life and 
struggled for a year with the after effects.

"I tried weed against my 'poorer' judgement and since I started 
smoking I haven't missed work because I've been depressed, I haven't 
missed work because my legs hurt," Austin said. "I'm a lot more 
productive of a person."

However, Austin was quick to point out that marijuana, like most 
anything else, can be abused.

"You can't smoke enough weed to kill yourself with; you can drink 
enough Coca Cola to go into diabetic shock," he said.

The 59-year-old Caine - who ran for City Council in 2011 and 
indicated that he will vie for the Langley City mayor's seat in the 
next municipal election - believes B.C.'ers need to have a say on the 
issue, something he says has been lacking through this process.

"By decriminalizing and regulating it, we're actually going to take 
back control," Caine said. "What Canadians and British Columbians are 
concerned about, is not having control. This would give them that opportunity."

He said the Sensible BC referendum would allow B.C. voters an 
opportunity to determine what the future of drug policy may be.

"I think that's beneficial in terms of unifying British Columbians 
around, I think a question that more and more people would like to 
discuss, would like to examine," he said.

A pot smoker for roughly the past 45 years, Caine believes the 
referendum is less about marijuana and more about solutions and dialogue.

On Saturday the reaction to the petition was "remarkably positive," Caine said.

This is what Caine described as the "Beta" version of the 
decriminalization movement.

"I think we can learn from this, and understand, what were the 
obstacles, what have been the challenges?"

For more information, visit For local information, 
canvassing locations, and events updates view the Facebook page: 
Sensible BC The Langleys:
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom