Tribune Staff Writer
Seated around a table in the Boston Pizza downstairs, a small but engaged group of various ages discussed Sensible BC’s campaign for a marijuana referendum with director Dana Larsen last Thursday, Aug. 8.
Larsen is currently undergoing a whirlwind tour of B.C., with plans to visit 32 Interior towns in 10 days, in hopes of promoting the campaign for a marijuana referendum and signing up canvassers to collect signatures come fall.
Williams Lake was Larsen’s eighth stop of the tour, and he said he has been pleased with the turnout so far.
“We’re talking to groups like this, not huge crowds. As long as we can get a few good people in each town, a good base in each district then we’ll be alright,” he said, adding that he hopes to get around 50 canvassers from each voting district in the province.
Starting on Sept. 9, Sensible BC will be collecting signatures from registered voters from across the province for 90 days, in an effort to put their Sensible Policing Act to referendum.
If they can collect signatures from 10 per cent of registered voters in every electoral district in B.C. the act could be put to referendum in 2014.
Only people who have signed up before Sept. 9 are authorized to collect signatures, however, so Larsen is carrying the Elections BC forms with him during his tour around B.C. and says they are also available to fill out online.
The Sensible Policing Act aims to effectively decriminalize marijuana by directing police to stop enforcing marijuana possession laws.
It would mandate that “no time or resources are to be spent searching or arresting anybody for marijuana possession,” said Larsen, adding that this is already mostly the case in Vancouver, but that the rest of B.C. has seen a bigger focus on the enforcement of marijuana possession laws in recent years.
The legislation also calls upon the federal government to repeal marijuana prohibition, so that B.C. can legally regulate its cultivation and sale.
In a poll done earlier this year by Strategic Communications, Sensible BC found that 70 per cent of British Columbians supported the Sensible Policing Act.
“We found that in every demographic group there was majority support for our legislation,” Larsen said. “Even with conservatives. In every age group, younger people, older people, everybody that we could find, there was majority support for our legislation, so it’s time for these laws to come into place.”
“People are often surprised at who supports it, and people who are worried or afraid of getting involved in our campaign are often pleasantly surprised at the support they get,” he added.
At this point, Larsen says he is “not looking to change minds,” about pot reform, but rather “looking to motivate people who want to see this change happen.”
Those interested in canvassing for Sensible BC can contact local volunteer co-ordinator Amy Carruthers at email@example.com or find out more information at sensiblebc.ca.