Day one of Sensible B.C.’s campaign to decriminalize marijuana in British Columbia is just about a wrap and Dana Larsen is calling it a success.
“It’s been a media bonanza,” the campaign’s lead spokesperson told the Straight. “I’ve probably done over 20 interviews so far and we launched our Cannabus, which is sitting across the street collecting signatures in the West End right now. It’s been a great first day today.”
The province’s chief electoral officer has already accepted a bill drafted by Sensible B.C. that provides for the decriminalization of marijuana via an amendment of the Police Act. Now the group has 90 days to collect the signatures of 10 percent of registered voters in each of the province’s 85 constituencies. If Sensible B.C. can get those estimated 400,000 signatures, the bill goes to a legislative committee, from where members can put the bill on a referendum, which would take place on September 27, 2014.
Larsen said Sensible B.C.’s plan for the first couple weeks of the signature drive is to knock a few of the easier constituencies off the list. Downtown Vancouver’s West End, for example, as well as areas in B.C.’s interior, north, and Vancouver Island.
“It’s the Lower Mainland where we still need to bring on more canvassers,” he noted. “We just have so many districts here and such a high level of population in Vancouver, Surrey, and Coquitlam, that we need a lot of canvasser to get involved. But overall, we’ve already laid a really strong foundation for the next 90 days.”
Larsen conceded that it’s likely going to be a challenge for Sensible B.C. to collect the signatures it needs to get its bill in front of a legislative committee.
“I’m very confident that if we can get the signatures, we will win the referendum,” he said. “It’s the logistics that are a challenge. Regardless of how much support we have, it’s a matter of getting people on the street, getting boots on the ground, and getting everybody involved. I know there’s support; it’s translating that support into action.”
But Larsen expressed optimism, noting that 1,700 people have volunteered to help collect signatures and that that number is continues to grow.
“Day one’s down and we’ve got 89 to go,” he said.