Pubdate: Tue, 03 Dec 2013
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Kent Spencer
Cited: Sensible BC:


Grassroots Snag: Organizers collect less than half of signatures 
needed for referendum

The grassroots campaign to change the B.C. government's approach to 
marijuana has just about gone bust.

Sensible B.C. volunteers seek passersby Monday at Dunbar and West 
41st Avenue to sign on for their campaign.

Sensible B.C. organizers said Monday that it will be pretty well 
impossible to collect enough signatures to prompt a provincial referendum.

Organizers said 150,000-plus signatures would have to be collected 
before next week's Elections B.C. deadline.

"We're not throwing in the towel yet, but we're acknowledging we have 
a ways to go at this point," said Dana Larsen, a marijuana activist 
and founder of Sensible B.C.

He said about 150,000 signatures have been collected to date, far 
short of the minimum 310,000 needed.

Sensible B.C. wants legislation that would prohibit police in B.C. 
from enforcing current federal laws on use of marijuana by adults.

Organizers have until 4 p.m. on Dec. 9 to collect the signatures and 
present them to Elections B.C.

They need 10 per cent of the registered voters in each of B.C.'s 85 ridings.

Larsen said several areas are proving to be a "challenge." They 
include parts of Surrey, the Fraser Valley and the Cariboo.

"Some districts are behind where we'd like to be," he said.

Larsen said three ridings have surpassed the 10-per-cent threshold, 
including Premier Christy Clark's West Kelowna riding, Nelson-Creston 
and Vancouver-West End.

Campaign volunteer Ian Rumpf said 4,500 people agreed to act as 
official canvassers.

"A lot of people amazed me. They put in eight-hour days," Rumpf said. 
"A package from the Interior just arrived with 1,500 signatures. They 
dropped things in their personal life to do this."

Larsen said the group is already taking stock of the lessons that 
have been learned and planning to give it another try in the future.

"This is doable," he said. "We've transformed the cannabis reform 
movement in B.C. with this campaign. It has been successful in 
putting pressure on elected representatives."

He said the group's budget was boosted by a $250,000 donation from 
$25-million lottery winner Bob Erb.

The money helped pay for a touring bus called the Cannabus.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom