September 09, 2013 - 4:51 PM
VERNON - With them or against them, Sensible B.C. campaigners want British Columbians to have a say on how police handle a very controversial plant.
It's the first day signatures can be collected for a petition that, if successful, will put marijuana reform before voters in the form of a referendum. On the ballot would be the Sensible Policing Act , which directs police to stop spending time and resources on searching, seizing or arresting anyone for simple cannabis possession. The act would amend B.C.'s Police Act without actually changing the illegal status of marijuana.
It's been a long time coming for Vernon resident and Sensible B.C. volunteer Boyd Goble, who uses marijuana to treat back pain and depression. The plant, which he calls a "miracle drug" has changed his life.
"I'd tried all these pharmaceuticals, anti-depressants. I can smoke a joint instead of taking 4-5 medications," he says.
Goble believes one of the big problems surrounding marijuana is that we're consistently told how bad it is, while at the same time, we're seeing numerous studies boasting its medicinal benefits.
When he began using marijuana to treat his conditions some 20 years ago, Goble says he felt guilty every time he took a puff.
"I was being told it was bad, but it was the thing that made me feel good," he says. "Eventually, I looked at the pile of pills, and I'd had it. For the next six months, I just used marijuana."
He's never gone back. But he worries about individuals in the same place he was 20 years ago.
"I can't imagine what people are going through now. They're being told it's as bad as heroin and meth," he says.
More research and more discussion is what people like Goble want to see.
"But we need this (Sensible Act) to happen first," he says.
Sensible B.C. advocate Dana Larsen says it's a first step to decriminalizing, then legalizing marijuana. A big first step when you consider they only have 90 days to collect signatures from ten per cent of registered voters in each of B.C.'s 85 ridings.
"It's going to be a challenge, but we're up for it," Goble says. "If you're against us that's cool, you can vote 'no' on the ballot. We just want to give people the chance to make that decision."
Vernon residents were inking the first signatures in the riding Monday, where Sensible B.C. canvassers were set up at Polson Park for the launch of the 90 day race. Voting cannot be done online, as per Elections B.C.'s rules. Voters can head to Kush Organics downtown Vernon to sign the petition over the next three months.
Some people putting their names on the petition today did so for personal reasons, like Goble, while others were just plain sick and tired of the laws. The overall atmosphere of the event was one of excitement, possibility and involvement.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
Donna Johannson and Don Whitnack raise a banner for the event.
(CHARLOTTE HELSTON /InfoTel Multimedia)
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013