Penticton scores enough signatures, cannabis petition
By Shannon Quesnel
Sensible B.C.'s Dana Larsen said 200,000 signatures are needed by Monday to trigger a cannabis decriminalization referendum.
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December 07, 2013 - 9:03 AM
PENTICTON - A cannabis decriminalization petition got more than enough signatures from people the Penticton riding to submit to Elections B.C. however other ridings in the province may fall short.
Sensible B.C. director Dana Larsen said he is still hoping to collect 200,000 of the 400,000 signitures needed to trigger a referendum. The deadline to submit the signatures to the Elections B.C. Victoria office is 4 p.m. Monday. Sensible B.C. Penticton co-ordinator Amanda Stewart said final results are expected later.
Whether or not Sensible B.C.'s campaign to kickstart a cannabis referendum succeeds or fails the effort has shown people want change Stewart said.
"There is nothing to stop any political party from taking those results and adopting them," into law she said.
Stewart and volunteers spent months gathering support and petition signatures for decriminalizing cannabis. They needed 10 per cent of a riding's eligible voters to sign the petition. About 5,000 Penticton voters signed, even though the volunteers only needed 4,300. They kept at it to provide a nice buffer in case of mistakes. People with jobs volunteered in their off hours while retired volunteers made carrying a petition clipboard their full-time job.
The petition campaign also served as a cannabis classroom. Hundreds of volunteers flipped people's opinions of marijuana and many naysayers wound up signing if only to support something that would save money. Stewart explained it costs the B.C. taxpayers $28,000 a day to arrest and process people for simply possessing the herb.
After all these months Stewart is exhausted, and a little burnt out, but her head is still crammed with moments she cannot forget.
She remembers one man who refused to sign because he thought it was against his Christian religion. She convinced him there were no rules about cannabis in the Bible and he ended up signing his name to the document.
To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 250-488-3065, send tweets to @shannonquesnel1 or @InfoNewsPentict.
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