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Sensible BC canvassers vow to carry on

The Sensible BC campaign did not end the way they hoped, but Penticton canvassers say they see no reason why they can't try it again.

Amanda Stewart, electoral riding coordinator for the Penticton and Boundary Similkamen districts, is particularly encouraged by the way the campaign was received here.

"I feel great that our region got what it was supposed to. but I couldn't control what happened in the other 83 ridings, " she said "We also had the advantage of good weather, whereas places like Prince George are cold."

The goal of the campaign, which started Sept. 9,  was to have a referendum on the Sensible Policing Act, which would decriminalize cannabis possession in BC and start the province on the path to a legally regulated system.

The deadline was Dec. 9 to collect the signatures of 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the provinces's 85 ridings, but the effort came up short.

On Monday, Sensible BC Director Dana Larsen said he expected to hand over just over 200,000 signatures to Elections BC.

Still, he said, Sensible BC will continue the push for decriminalization and another signature drive is possible in the future.

Stewart, who worked hard along with others to help Penticton get 5,000 signatures, said although it didn't work out this time, it was still a good learning experience.

One thing they did discover was that a lot of people are not registered voters.

"They are disenfranchised from the government process and then something like this comes up and they are not eligible to vote," she said.  

They also understand more about organizing volunteers, how to get people to sign and what businesses are responsive to the effort.

Kim Wall, a canvasser who works at LockWorks in Penticton, said it was definitely disappointing that the rest of the province didn't reach their targets, but she too believes they will be better prepared the next time around.

"I was happy to see Penticton and Boundary Similkameen meet out targets, but it was also disappointing to see how many people distrust the government, so much that they wouldn't sign fearing they wouldn't be allowed across the border or be put on a government black list," she said.

Overall, her experiences as a canvasser were extremely positive, allowing her to meet a lot of great people up and down the valley.

She plans to keep her ears open as to what Larsen plans next and is looking forward to doing it again.

Stewart said she is proud of the fact this was the largest marijuana law reform initiative in Canadian history. And she reminded people it took Washington two times to get to where it's at.

"We realized it was a reach for the stars from the beginning," she said. "I think we will do it again and be successful the second time."

She also has a sense of accomplishment from better educating people about marijuana itself.

"It's not really embittering, because we educated so many people that it's a very powerful medicinal herb that can improve the quality of someone's life when used properly," she said.



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