Sensible BC is under pressure with only three weeks left to double the number of signatures they’ve gathered to get a marijuana referendum. With the Dec. 5 deadline of the 90-day campaign looming closer, only about 150,000 of the necessary 400,000 signatures have been collected so far.
Sensible BC has been canvassing across the province since early September to get a referendum to pass the Sensible Policing Act, which would decriminalize minimal marijuana possession in B.C.
The current signature amount is not looking likely to pass the referendum
“If we continue at the pace we’ve been at we’re not going to make it,” said spokesperson Dana Larsen. “We’ve got to see a big increase.”
He has seen an increase in signatures every week as the number of canvassers has nearly tripled to 4,000 from the 1,400 they started with.
Dana Larsen speaks with Breakfast Television about B.C.’s marijuana referendum
“It’s a time crunch for sure,” said Langara science student Jennifer Musto who is a volunteer canvasser.
“We just need as many canvassers as possible to collect the signatures and get the word out there,” she said.
Larsen says the referendum system in B.C. is designed to be impossible to get on the ballot.
The 10 per cent of registered voters required to sign the petition for a referendum must be spread equally across all 85 electoral districts in B.C.
Some areas have enough signatures for their riding, whereas the majority do not
Vancouver’s West End has already produced enough signatures but south Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, and Coquitlam are more challenging.
“It’s a huge bureaucratic burden,” said Larsen. “I think it’s shameful that our elected officials are making us go through this ridiculous process.”
The signatures must be collected within 90 days and all canvassers must be strictly volunteers.
Political science instructor Peter Prontzos says the time frame is a bit arbitrary.
“As long as the support is there, what difference does it really make if you got it in three months, or four or five, it that’s what people want.”
He calls the provincial referendum system a “really difficult obstacle course for citizens.”
“One would think you’d want to encourage democracy by making it easier to have referenda,” said Prontzos.
Despite the gloomy forecast, Larsen says they will continue lobby MLA’s to move towards the sensible marijuana policy.
“This legislation that we’ve written is not going away,” he said. “Sensible BC is here to stay.”
Reported by Amy Jones