Langara instructor and Vancouver city councillor advocates for marijuana referendum

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A Langara College instructor is vocal regarding his approval of a grassroots campaign whose goal is to change B.C.’s marijuana laws.

“Personally, I’ve been advocating legalization for quite a long time,” said Comparative Religions instructor, Tim Stevenson, who is also a Vancouver city councillor. “It will take away from illegal activity and probably bite into its gang activity.”

Goal: To decriminalize the minimal possession of marijuana

Sensible BC’s  petition campaign requires over 400,000 signatures to result in a referendum, which could see the minimal possession amount of marijuana decriminalized in B.C.

“This law is intended to effectively decriminalize marijuana possession in British Columbia as the first step towards a fully legally regulated system,” said Sensible BC’s media relations officer Dana Larsen. “Signatures are coming in quite steadily. We have 90 days overall to collect the signatures that we need.”

Public and civil involvement

With the petition’s deadline set to Dec. 5, Sensible BC is encouraging the public to get involved, both in signing the petition and registering to collect signatures. So far, there are over 2,300 registered canvassers across the province, with the number of signatures currently in the tens of thousands.

“I think it would mean a substantial decrease in the budget that’s necessary for police at the present time,” said Stevenson.

According to a Nov. 2012 research paper published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, decriminalizing marijuana in B.C. could generate $2.5 billion in government tax and licensing revenues over five years. Law enforcement expenses are expected to drop in the event of legalization, but time and money will be channeled into regulation.

Questions on regulation

“I think that when marijuana is legalized, we need to look at a lot of questions about availability, accessibility, who will sell it and not mention the prices,” said Stevenson.

With 73 per cent of B.C.’s voting population in support of decriminalizing cannabis, Sensible BC decided it was time to push for a referendum, similar to those which led to legalization in Washington and Colorado.

“The whole point of this campaign is to bypass our cowardly politicians,” said Larsen. “When the people of British Columbia have a strong support for something and the government won’t act on it, that’s the time that we need people to get involved and use grassroots democracy.”

Langara students also advocating movement

“I think that when one compares the benefits to the negatives, there is really no harm in legalizing marijuana,” said fourth year business student, Yann Desponds.

“[Decriminalizing] could help prevent crime and hinder gangs, as well as provide lots of tax dollars that would otherwise be pushed onto us in other ways,” said third year business student, Devon Friday.

Reported by Jacqueline Langen and Warren Jané

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Photos by Jacqueline Langen – Click “Show info” for caption information

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  1. Eronne says

    I understand the governments passion to build new bureaucracies but everything is in place to legalize pot now. Government liquor stores are the perfect venue to sell pot. License growers with the same legislation that licenses wineries and breweries. Private industry can be contracted for testing. License u-grows with the same legislation that licenses u-brews. Impaired driving already covers operation of vehicles. People should be able to grow their own the same way they can make beer and wine at home, small quantities for personal consumption. There is no reason to make this a big deal. Tax collected through the liquor stores can fund education programs. Supplying access under age will continue to be a crime.
    Common sense needs to prevail.

    1. Jacqueline Langen says

      Thanks for taking the time comment, Eronne.

      You make a good point in suggesting liquor stores be the distributors. This way cannabis sales would be
      justifiable, as well regulated. It would also influence a decrease in the overall crime rates in relation to
      marijuana.

      If cannabis tax was put towards education funding, that would be greatly beneficial for the both the public and
      the government.

      Perhaps the referendum will prevail, and the taxation will be used to help society in a variety of ways.

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