Pot petition coming to Chilliwack

Dozens of Chilliwack canvassers are seeking local support for marijuana decriminalization as part of a provincial campaign.

A group of Chilliwack residents are preparing for a massive street campaign to gather signatures in support of marijuana decriminalization.

“I personally think we’re just misinformed…I don’t think it (marijuana’s) being illegal is justified,” said local volunteer coordinator Ceara Sinead Doyle.

About 40 Chilliwack volunteers have so far signed on to a provincial campaign to gather 400,000 signatures, representing 10 per cent of B.C. voters. This would trigger a provincial referendum in 2014 to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The organizing group, Sensible B.C., wants the province to pass a so-called Sensible Policing Act, which will stop police from searching or arresting people in B.C. for small cases of possession. The group terms the amendment “sensible” because it would purportedly save police time and resources.

Doyle believes there is “definitely” a strong pro-decriminalization undercurrent in Chilliwack.

“I think that we’re coming to an understanding now. We’re not in the dark ages anymore. We have the internet. We can do our own research, instead of just believing the stuff you hear,” she said.

Doyle has witnessed the beneficial side of light marijuana use, such as when her grandmother used pills derived from the main chemical in cannabis to manage pain related to ovarian cancer.

Doyle is now looking for more volunteers to collect signatures in Chilliwack, and emphasizes that those interested need not necessarily go door-knocking.

“If they have a network of people that they know supporting it, then they could sign up as a canvasser and then just get their friends and family to sign. Because it helps a lot.”

In an effort to rally canvassers and supporters, the founder of Sensible B.C. is stopping in Chilliwack during his provincial tour. Dana Larsen will be at Evergreen Hall’s Minto Room (9291 Corbould Street) at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18.

Elections B.C. granted approval in principle for the petition drive.

Sensible B.C. is using the same voter initiative system that forced the repeal of the harmonized sales tax in B.C. The group will have 90 days starting Sept. 9 to collect signatures from 10 per cent of registered provincial voters in each of B.C.’s 85 electoral districts.

If that target is met, a province-wide vote would be held on the proposed law.

Individuals and groups have until Aug. 12 to register with Elections BC to oppose the initiative by advertising and collecting signatures against the initiative.

– with files from Tom Fletcher