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Sensible BC petitions for pot reform

Monday September 9 is go time for the Sensible BC campaign, a province-wide, grassroots initiative aimed at decriminalizing marijuana.

The most important message for supporters – get registered with Elections BC before Monday if you want to sign the petition.

Earlier this year, Sensible BC received the green light from Elections BC to move forward with a petition to have the marijuana reform question answered by public referendum.

The Vernon-Monashee Sensible BC campaign kicks off at Polson Park on Monday between noon and 6 p.m. near the fountain. The group will be collecting signatures in support of taking the cannabis issue to referendum, but you must be registered to vote in BC for your signature to qualify.

The referendum process is a three-year undertaking, says Vernon-Monashee Sensible BC Coodinator, Boyd Goble.

“We are hoping to introduce our Sensible Policing Act. We actually submitted it for approval to Elections BC last year just to make sure it would be accepted,” says Goble.

The group then withdrew their proposal, choosing to use the extra time to build support and thoroughly prepare for the campaign. The Sensible Policing Act was re-submitted in 2013, and accepted by Elections BC in July.

It seeks to amend BC Police Act in a way that decriminalizes marijuana possession by redirecting police time and resources.

“It makes it a non priority. We have to ask why we are spending so much time on minimal marijuana possession,” he said.

To deal with minors, the Sensible Policing Act also adds cannabis to the section of the BC Liquor Control Act which covers minors in possession of alcohol. This will enable a police officer to confiscate cannabis from a minor, in exactly the same manner and with the same penalties as for alcohol.

“Right now, it’s easier for kids to get their hands on marijuana than alcohol,” said Goble.

The Sensible BC campaign has two months to collect the signatures of 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the province's 85 ridings. That would either force a vote in the legislature or a provincewide, non-binding referendum.

Goble says their goal is 15 per cent, to account for the inevitable one or two per cent of disqualified signatures.

The biggest challenge, he says, is breaking down public misconceptions about cannabis.

“It’s been 70 years of prohibition, so there is still a lot of stigma. But let’s open up an honest discussion and engage in a democratic process that gives people a choice in the matter.”  

For more information about the Sensible BC campaign and the Sensible Policing Act, you can visit the website.

Read more Vernon / N. Okanagan News

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