Pubdate: Mon, 09 Dec 2013
Source: Prince George Citizen (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Prince George Citizen
Author: Arthur Williams
Page: 6
Cited: Sensible BC:


Today is the deadline for Sensible B.C. to present its petition to
decriminalize marijuana use to Elections B.C. According to media
reports, organizers believe the petition will fall well short of the
approximately 400,000 signatures needed to trigger a referendum on the

Campaign director Dana Larsen told the Huffington Post the difficult
process, fear of repercussions for signing and lack of organization in
some ridings is to blame. In 2010 former premier William Vander Zalm
and the organizers of the anti-HST petition showed the petition
process, created in 1995, can succeed with sufficient organization and
public support.

It seems unlikely - paranoid, even - for people to fear that police
and employers would spend the time to scan through the hundreds of
thousands of signatures to target individuals. Signing a petition
isn't illegal and many people who support the goals of the petition
may not purchase or consume marijuana illegally. An Angus Reid poll
commissioned by Stop the Violence B.C. in October, 2012 found 75 per
cent of British Columbians polled were in favour of legalizing,
regulating and taxing the sale of marijuana. The 2012 Canadian Alcohol
and Drug Use Monitoring Survey by Health Canada reported that, in
2011, 44.3 per cent of British Columbians had used marijuana at least
once in their lifetime. Only 12.1 per cent British Columbians reported
using marijuana in the past year.

If the survey numbers are accurate, there is more than six supporters
of marijuana legalization in B.C. for every regular user. It's perhaps
not surprising the grassroots base for a marijuana decriminalization
petition turned out to be a little bit flaky, unfocused and apathetic.
But with 75 per cent popular support, they should have been able to
get the job done.

While anti-HST canvassers went door to door, canvassed at malls and
public events, and even organized their own events, the marijuana
petition had little public presence. And there is perhaps a fourth
problem which Larsen and Sensible B.C. didn't count on: that while 75
per cent of British Columbians support the regulation and legal sale
of marijuana, they may not support the proposed Sensible Policing Act.

Marijuana is a controlled substance under schedule two of the federal
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and there is nothing B.C. or any
other province can do about it. What the proposed Sensible Policing
Act would do is direct police - RCMP and municipal forces - in B.C. to
not allocate any time, manpower or resources to investigations,
searches, seizures, citations, arrests or detentions related solely to
simple possession of marijuana.

That is definitely not the same as a system allowing marijuana to be
produced, sold and consumed legally. Under the proposed Sensible
Policing Act, organized crime would continue to control the
production, distribution and sale of marijuana.

The Sensible Policing Act would be a half baked partial solution,
which could play into the hands of the gun-toting, drug-dealing gangs
that control the marijuana industry. There is little sensible about
that. The second part of the petition would call on the B.C.
government to request the federal government remove marijuana from the
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act or give B.C. an exemption.

However the federal Conservatives have made it clear that they have no
intention of doing that, making the second part of the petition an
empty gesture.

What three-quarters of British Columbians - and 36 per cent of
Canadians, according to an August poll by Forum Research - want is the
ability for an adult to buy clean, safe marijuana from a legitimate,
taxpaying business. Legalization, not decriminalization, is a
genuinely-sensible solution will require change at the federal level.
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