September 23, 2013 - 10:25 AM
PENTICTON - Those pushing 50 are the biggest posse of pushers for a petition to decriminalize cannabis.
When Canadians think of people using pot or people who support the legalization they might think of 20-year-olds with dreadlocks lounging at the beach or kids toking up behind a convenience store. In Penticton, however, it is the 50-plus crowd who are the biggest supporters of a petition to decriminalize cannabis.
"The volunteers are in their 50s and they are signing up (people) in the same age," Amanda Stewart, the Sensible B.C. riding co-ordinator for Penticton, says. Some are signing the petition and volunteering as they no longer want to break the law to get relief for chronic pain. Others want to re-direct law enforcement efforts to more serious matters.
The provincial petition's purpose is to force a referendum which will amend the rules to prevent police officers from applying resources towards arresting people for marijuana possession. Sensible B.C. has been authorized by Elections B.C. to collect signatures from 10 per cent of eligible voters in each of B.C.'s 85 ridings. Success could start a referendum or the legislature voting on the matter. The petition has until November to collect just over 400,000 signatures.
Stewart says this is the hot story in the province right now. A Sensible B.C. booth at the Penticton farmers' market had a line-up of people waiting to sign. Youth too young to vote are also helping out by delivering petitions and canvassing door-to-door.
LockWorks manager Kim Wall has had the same experience. The Main Street business has seen all types walk through the front door ready to sign the cannabis petition she and owner Dale Fleming have in their shop.
Wall says she wanted a petition at her place as some are not comfortable walking into one of the city's two hemp shops to sign petitions. A place like LockWorks is perceived to be a more mainstream and blue-collar business.
She adds if the rules are changed it will also help some of those who want blue-collar jobs. Alarm installer, locksmith and bouncer positions could be off-limits for people who need a criminal record check and had been charged for pot use or possession.
Stewart believes success is possible. British Columbians had their eyes opened regarding change when the HST referendum transformed taxation. And having two U.S. states legalize pot possession helped as well.
For those wanting to learn more go to Sensible B.C.'s website or its Facebook page. Would-be volunteers can contact Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-770-8171.
Petitions can be found at LockWorks on Main Street, ServiceMaster on Government Street and Valley Hemp at Skaha Lake Road and its downtown Main Street location.
To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at email@example.com, call 250-488-3065, tweet @shannonquesnel1 or @InfoNewsPentict
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