Marijuana campaign reaches halfway mark

Organizers in Cranbrook area ridings say about half the signatures needed to force decriminalization issue to referendum have been gathered

  • Oct. 25, 2013 8:00 p.m.

Barry Coulter and Carolyn Grant

Sensible BC’s campaign to force the issue of marijuana decriminalization to referendum in B.C. has just reached its halfway mark, and organizers say about half the signatures needed have been gathered.

A 90-day countdown began Monday, Sept. 9, for a petition campaign to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana in B.C. Volunteers for Sensible B.C. have until Dec. 5 to collect more than 400,000 signatures. This number represents 10 per cent of eligible voters in each of B.C.’s 85 electoral ridings. In Kootenay East, 3,100 signatures are needed.

Barbara Kern, who’s organizing the campaign in Kootenay East, said there is certainly a ways to go for the campaign to achieve its goal, but the pace is picking up.

“In the last two weeks we’ve doubled our canvassers (in B.C.) from about 1,600 to 3,100,” she said. “In Kootenay East we have about 12 active cavassers.

“I did some number crunching and we have about half the signatures we need. If we’re going to reach our goal here (in Kootenay East), we’ll need to get about 60 signatures a day.”

The campaign moving at different rates in different ridings. “In Nelson they’re just cruising,” Kern said, by way of example. “And certain numbers up north are getting good numbers. Those ridings that finish first might send canvassers to other ridings.”

At present, the campaign in Cranbrook is collecting signatures a several locations: Hemp City, Monday to Friday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Save-On Foods Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 to 4 p.m.; the College of the Rockies, Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. In the cafeteria.

Kern said the campaign wants to start focussing on more door-to-door canvassing.

“We should be able to reach our goal,” but it’s still a huge challenge,” she said. “We’re aiming for 15 per cent (of eligible voters), to cover mistakes or (signature) rejections.”

“People still don’t know that you have to be registered with Elections BC for your signature to count,” Kern added. She said residents could go onto the website, “then sign up with us.”

In Columbia River-Revelstoke, Ashlee Taylor is leading the charge. She estimates that her campaign is also about at the halfway point signature-wise at this stage, but they need to make a big push to get things done prior to the December 5 deadline. They have also set a goal of getting 15 per cent of eligible voters to sign rather than 10.

“We have pulled a ton of signatures out of Kimberley but have only recently been able to recruit more help for other parts of our district,” Taylor said. “We travelled to Invermere over the weekend to collect and encourage people to help out. We now have that area covered and Golden is going strong but there is still  no help in Revelstoke . We only have one or two canvassers for that entire area.”

Taylor is very appreciative of the help she is getting.

“Our Kimberley canvassing team has been going very strong and I really want them to know how much their time and effort is appreciated. This is a delicate topic for some and we have all felt both sides and it hasn’t slowed our team down at all! Its really great to see.”

Sensible BC will have a sign-up table at the picnic area near the Marysville Arena this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.