Monday July 14, 2014

Petition all smoked out

Today is Sensible B.C.’s deadline to hand in its petition to force a vote on decriminalizing marijuana in B.C.

If they don’t bother sending it in, don’t blame it on the organizers being too buzzed and forgetting — it’s just that there would be no point.

The initiative required about 400,000 signatures — 10 per cent of the eligible voters in each of B.C.’s 85 electoral districts  in a 90-day period — to get onto a ballot in next November’s municipal elections across the province, and Sensible B.C. has barely half that many according to the most optimistic projections.

Here in Kamloops, the campaign also never got close, with about half the signatures required in each of our two ridings.

Campaign director Dana Larsen has blamed the onerous process required by law to force a vote, as well as a lack of organization in some ridings, but assigned most of the blame to the stigma around use of the drug.

“There’s a lot of people who would tell us they support what we’re doing and they’re behind us but they don’t want to sign because they’re afraid they’ll lose their job, they’re afraid that they can’t cross the border, they’re afraid the RCMP will get this list,” Larsen said in The Huffington Post.

“I didn’t anticipate that level of fear of engaging in the political process.”

Really? That’s one way of looking at it.

There is, of course, the possibility that not enough people actually want to decriminalize it.

Answering a public opinion poll or clicking “Like” on a Facebook page is one thing: going out and signing a petition that will actually change the way the law on marijuana possession is enforced is a more serious step, one that clearly not enough people felt comfortable taking.

And the process is supposed to be onerous for that very reason — to ensure that people are serious about making the change that’s called for.

The petition to kill the HST, for instance, managed to overcome exactly the same hurdles Sensible B.C. faced.

The organizers behind Sensible B.C. can blame the process, the organization or the stigma all they want — that’s democracy. But a failed initiative is also democracy working, whether you like the result or not.

We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.

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