Pubdate: Fri, 06 Dec 2013
Source: Coast Reporter (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Coast Reporter
Author: Christine Wood
Cited: Sensible BC:


The Coast made their quota, but whether the rest of the province will 
get 10 per cent of constituents to sign a petition to decriminalize 
marijuana possession is yet to be seen.

Sensible B.C. has until Dec. 9 to get enough signatures from British 
Columbians to push for a referendum on the issue; however, some 
communities are far from reaching the 10 per cent target needed to 
trigger a referendum.

"The Lower Mainland, for example, generally is a real challenge, just 
by virtue of the number of people," said local Sensible B.C. campaign 
organizer Paul Renaud.

"In Surrey alone I guess there's in the neighbourhood of 300,000 
voters, which means 30,000 signatures are required in Surrey alone."

In the Coast riding (which includes Powell River) a total of 3,782 
signatures were needed. Between Langdale and Egmont 3,200 signatures 
were gathered by the end of November.

The last Renaud heard from Powell River they had about 1,000 
signatures, which puts the riding well over the 10 per cent target.

Many other rural communities also gathered enough signatures before 
the end of November, so canvassing efforts are now being focused in 
urban areas like the Lower Mainland.

Despite the stepped up canvassing, Renaud is skeptical the initiative 
will succeed this time around.

"It's doubtful that it will be enough," he said.

Even Sensible B.C. leader Dana Larsen wasn't optimistic about the 
campaign this week, saying he's "definitely thinking about trying 
again," if the endeavour fails.

Sensible B.C. is calling upon the B.C. government to pass a Sensible 
Policing Act that would prohibit police from using their time or 
resources to arrest users of marijuana.

In order to have the act considered, 10 per cent of British 
Columbians (more than 400,000 people) must sign a petition forcing 
the government to bring the issue to referendum next year.

The process is similar to what was rolled out to fight the harmonized 
sales tax.

On the Sunshine Coast (between Egmont and Langdale) a total of 35 
canvassers set up booths in public places, answered questions and 
gathered signatures between the start of the campaign on Sept. 9 and 
the end of November.

Renaud said for the most part canvassers were treated well and the 
public was supportive.

"While canvassing we all heard many times over how marijuana 
prohibition has been a complete failure of a public policy while 
generating disrespect for law enforcement and enriching gangsters," 
Renaud said. "In addition, we all heard many stories of medical use, 
particularly among elders, and for a wide variety of ailments and in 
myriad forms, including smoking and vaporizing, edibles, tinctures, 
oils and ointments."

Some members of the public were not receptive to the canvassers, however.

"A gratifyingly small number were actually angry or abusive to us and 
while they may rant about 'under-achieving drug addicts,' we are 
cognizant of the irony and hypocrisy that alcohol, which causes so 
many harms, is so tolerated and widely available," Renaud said.

If the Sensible B.C. campaign fails and another call for canvassers 
comes in the future, Renaud is confident most of the Coast volunteers 
will return.

"We all felt pretty strongly about what we were doing, that it was 
worthwhile and that it is possible," he said.

Once all of the signed forms have been handed into the government on 
Dec. 9, Elections B.C. will have 42 days to report the findings, but 
its likely preliminary results will be announced much sooner on the 
Sensible B.C. website at
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom