Pot petition campaign well underway, locations announced

Organizers say about one sixth of signatures needed to force issue to referendum have been collected, in B.C. and Kootenay East.

Sensible BC’s campaign is proceeding apace.

The group has gathered about one sixth of the petition signatures needed  to force the decriminalization of marijuana to referendum.

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.

“The campaign is well underway, ” said local organizer Barbara Kern. “Things are good. We’re getting noticed, we’re getting exposure.”

Kern said that province-wide, about one sixth of the signatures needed have been collected, and that’s true for Kootenay East as well. The riding includes Sparwood, Elko, Fernie, Baynes Lake, Galloway, Jaffray, Moyie, Wardner, Cranbrook and Yahk. Sensible BC has about 25 volunteers working this territory.

“We’re still looking for more volunteers and canvassers,” Kern said, adding that Sensible BC is expecting a surge of signatures in November.

Locations to sign the petition in Cranbrook are in place, Kern said. The petition can be signed at the Cranbrook Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (there are only two Saturday markets left in the season); at Hemp City/Dr. Love (121A 6th Street North), Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and Kootenay Pawnbrokers (2420 30th Avenue North).

Kern said there are more locations being set up, which will be announced at  a later date.

The same sort of campaign, under the same laws, was used three  years ago to force repeal of the harmonized sales tax. The province-wide campaign is led by long-time marijuana legalization advocate Dana Larsen.

Kern said that Cranbrook can also expect a visit from the campaign’s “Canna-bus.”

Larsen has proposed that B.C. go around the federal prohibition with a “Sensible Policing Act” that would disallow the use of B.C. police resources to prosecute simple possession of small amounts of pot by adults.

Marijuana possession cases still account for 60 per cent of drug violation reports to police in B.C., according to Statistics Canada figures from 2012. But the number of cases declined 10 per cent from 2011.