B.C. pot petition would end enforcement of possession laws
Dana Larsen hopes to trigger referendum that would halt use of police resources
A Vancouver pot activist has received approval from Elections B.C. to launch a petition aimed at stopping police from cracking down on pot smokers in the province.
The marijuana activist group Sensible B.C is behind the petition, which would work the same way as the petition that triggered the referendum that ended the HST.
Starting Sept. 9, the group will have 90 days to collect signatures from 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the province's ridings.
If the group is successful, it could trigger a referendum on a draft bill, entitled the Sensible Policing Act, which would amend the Police Act.
The bill would prohibit the use of provincial police resources to enforce simple possession-and-use laws for adults.
Executive director Dana Larsen says even though pot laws are under federal jurisdiction, the province still has the power to tell police where to spend its resources.
"I think most British Columbians recognize that people who use marijuana whether for medical purposes or whether they simply choose marijuana instead of alcohol, those people are not criminals and that the prohibition we're engaging in now is criminalizing people that don't deserve to have that label," said Larsen.
Simon Fraser University criminology professor Neil Boyd, who has done research for Sensible B.C., says public opinion on the issue in B.C. is clear.
"Can they actually get these signatures? But the more important issue is what do the public think? We already know the answer to that, and that is that the status quo is inappropriate and we should stop prosecuting individuals for possession of cannabis."