NORTH Shore organizers are signing up volunteers after the campaign to decriminalize marijuana possession in B.C. was given the go-ahead to try for a referendum on the issue.
Sensible B.C. received word from Elections B.C. earlier this month that canvassers could collect signatures for an initiative petition, similar to the one that prompted the referendum that killed the Harmonized Sales Tax in 2011.
"It feels good but we know there's a lot of work ahead of us and it's a pretty onerous task," said Michael Charrois, Sensible B.C.'s co-ordinator for North Vancouver.
"We're focused on what's need to be done."
The group, led by Dana Larsen, a former West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country NDP candidate and marijuana activist, needs to get signatures from
10 per cent of registered voters in all of the province's 85 ridings between Sept. 9 and Nov. 9. Once the petitioning begins, expect to see Charrois and dozens of other volunteers going door to door and setting up booths in places with heavy foot traffic. Even though laws against marijuana are federal, the petition calls for changes to the provincial Police Act, to specifically instruct officers not to enforce marijuana possession laws. If successful, the petition would force the provincial government to address the issue, either through a non-binding referendum or bill in the legislature.
Charrois and his fellow campaigners were on the street shaking hands and signing up canvassers in Ambleside on Sunday. "Here on the North Shore, we have 71 people and it's growing every day," Charrois said. "Hopefully we get people with their own networks who can get people to sign. We're growing over the summer."
It's hard to predict the initiative's chances of success, either on the North Shore or province wide, Charrois said. He said he's received "a pretty positive response when we're out on the street."
But he also acknowledged initiative petitions are a strict numbers game. "All it takes is one of the 85 (ridings) to not get 10 per cent of the registered voters," he said.
Adding to the challenge is that people who want to sign the petition can only do so in the riding in which they are registered to vote. "It can be tricky. If we get someone who lives in West Vancouver and they sign one from North Vancouver, well, it doesn't count," he said.
To combat that, canvassers will be out with petition pages for each of the North Shore's ridings.
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