Jack Elliman (left)

Jack Elliman (left)

Marijuana movement making waves

Wide variety of residents line up to sign onto province-wide initiative to decriminalize cannabis

From businessmen to families and cancer patients, a wide variety of local residents lined up in Polson Park to sign onto a province-wide initiative to decriminalize cannabis Monday.

Organizers of the Sensible BC campaign for Vernon-Monashee said they were overwhelmed with the numbers, and types of people, who came out to support the marijuana referendum.

“At last count we collected 165 signatures at the table,” said Boyd Goble, an organizer.

“It’s a lot more than just people smoking weed,” he adds. “There’s medical patients, all sorts of people.”

The one disappointment to the day was a theft.

“We count on donations to do printing and supply our canvassers with the tools needed to do the collecting and I was saddened to find our donation can missing, I hope whoever has it needed the money,” said Goble.

The Sensible BC effort aims to collect signatures of at least 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the province’s 85 electoral districts, including Vernon-Monashee.

The 90-day countdown began Monday for a petition drive to force the effective legalization of simple possession of marijuana in B.C.

Volunteers for Sensible B.C., led by long-time drug legalization advocate Dana Larsen, have until Dec. 5 to collect more than 400,000 signatures. The process uses the same law that forced repeal of the harmonized sales tax, the petition to trigger a province-wide referendum.

If successful, the initiative could amend the Police Act, directing RCMP not to spend any time, money or resources on cases of simple possession of cannabis.

Those who couldn’t make it to the campaign launch Monday can sign on at Kush Organics (3004 31st St.), where organizers will be set up from noon to 4 p.m. weekdays until Sept. 20 and then moving to other locations after that.

“We want anybody who is interested in the idea to come on down,” said Goble.

For more information visit www.sensiblebc.ca

“In order to sign the petition, individuals must be registered on the provincial voters list as of (Sept. 9) and may sign the petition sheet only for the electoral district in which they are registered to vote,” said Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer. “The proponent must return signed petition sheets to Elections BC by December 9, 2013.”

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.

There were 25,432 police-reported incidents of all types of drug offences in B.C. last year, a 7.4 per cent decline from 2011. Marijuana trafficking cases declined more than 20 per cent to 1,006 incidents, and importation and exportation of marijuana declined by 40 per cent.

Marijuana growing cases declined 4.6 per cent, following a 28.6 per cent drop in 2011.