Sensible BC’s CannaBus stopped along the Sunshine Coast last week following a tour of Vancouver Island to collect signatures for its marijuana referendum campaign.
The bus was in Powell River on Thursday evening, Oct. 17, and the following morning. Then it boarded a ferry for the Lower Sunshine Coast, for stops in Sechelt and Gibsons before it went back to the Lower Mainland.
The group wants to pass the Sensible Policing Act, which would stop police from searching or arresting people for marijuana possession. If volunteers gather enough signatures, it would trigger a referendum in September 2014.
In order to sign the petition, individuals must be registered on the provincial voters’ list as of Sept. 9. Sensible BC must return signed petition sheets to Elections BC by Dec. 9.
The group needs signatures from 10 per cent of registered voters in all of B.C.’s electoral districts to force the referendum. Elections BC has established the signature thresholds in each of B.C.’s 85 electoral districts. In Powell River-Sunshine Coast, the campaign must collect 3,763 signatures.
Dana Larsen, Sensible BC director, said the campaign is ahead of schedule in the Powell River-Sunshine Coast riding.
“Things are going quite well, although that’s more because of the Lower Coast where we’ve been doing really well,” he said. “In Powell River, we’ve had a bit of a slow start, but things have definitely picked up.”
That’s been the trend around the province, Larsen added.
“We’re definitely getting more signatures every week than the week before. As long as that momentum continues, we should be able to get this thing done,” he said.
Around the province, the campaign has about one third of the signatures it needs, Larsen said.
“We’re coming into the halfway point of the campaign, so we definitely need to double up our signature gathering for the next half, but that does seem possible,” he said. “On the Sunshine Coast, however, we’re well over half way and it’s one of the ridings we expect to get done well before the end of the gathering period.”
In fact, Larsen said, he’s hoping to convince some of the volunteers in the riding to help out in the Lower Mainland in the last few weeks of the campaign.
“Ultimately I think the Lower Mainland is going to be some of the most challenging areas,” he said. “Coquitlam, Surrey, Burnaby, south Vancouver, those are some of the areas where we’re behind and need to catch up. We’re going to be redirecting our supporters into those areas once we finish up in other spots.”
Residents can still sign up as canvassers, Larsen said, adding there is always a need for more volunteers and supporters. The best way to do that is through the campaign’s website http://sensiblebc.ca.