For the next three months, you can expect to see smiling canvassers asking for your signature on a petition that could effectively decriminalize marijuana possession in B.C.
The Sensible B.C. initiative petition, headed up by marijuana activist and former West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country NDP candidate Dana Larsen, got its official start Monday morning.
The petition calls for the B.C. Police Act to be amended to specifically direct police agencies to stop enforcing simple marijuana possession laws. This was Larsen’s way of getting around the fact that criminal laws, including those related to controlled substances, are exclusively under federal control.
Sensible B.C. now has until Dec. 9 to get valid signatures from 10 per cent of all registered voters in every riding in B.C.
If successful, the petition must be addressed by the legislature’s committee on legislative initiatives which must then either recommend it go straight to the legislature as a bill, or trigger a referendum on it in 2014. It is the same method campaigners used to overturn the Harmonized Sales Tax.
The campaign in three of the North Shore’s ridings is being headed up by Michael Charrois, also a former federal NDP candidate.
“That’s approximately 4,000 (signatures) each in North Vancouver-Lonsdale, North Vancouver-Seymour and West Vancouver-Capilano,” Charrois said. “The strategy is we would prefer people to come to us rather than us going door to door. We will if we have to. We’re setting up stations where people can come to us.”
Charrois and his 30-plus volunteers will be setting up in high-traffic public areas such as the SeaBus terminal and Lonsdale and 15th Street to gather their quota of John Hancocks.
Asked how he liked his chances, Charrois is a bit guarded. “It’s an onerous task. It’s a huge task. Who can say? It’s only worked one other time with the HST petition and that really had people riled up,” he said.
But he said, with polls showing that 73 per cent of British Per Chri agree with marijuana reform, “it’s just a matter of finding those people.”
“We’re not out to have conversations or trying to change peoples’ opinions. We just want to find the people who agree with us.”
In the campaign’s early hours, Charrois said the response thus far had been “great,” drawing in support from more than just recreational or medicinal cannabis users.
“This is an issue that crosses over gender, age and the political spectrum,” he said.
New volunteers can still register as canvassers.
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