Effectively decriminalizing marijuana in BC is a step closer.

Under the Recall and Initiative Act, Elections BC has granted approval to Dana Larsen’s initiative petition application to canvass for signatures for his proposed draft Bill – the Sensible Policing Act. If the initiative petition is successful, a legislative committee could recommend it go to a public vote.

Dana Larsen, Director of Sensible BC and proponent of the Sensible Policing Act, has asked Mayor and Council of Valemount to consider endorsing the Sensible Policing Act, and consider bringing it forward to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) for their endorsement.

The Sensible Policing Act is a legislative proposal to effectively decriminalize cannabis possession in British Columbia, and to work towards legalization.

The summary from Elections BC of the draft bill says that the act proposes to amend the Police Act to no longer use provincial police resources on the enforcement of current laws related to simple possession of cannabis by adults. It would make possession and use of cannabis by minors an offence similar to possession and use of alcohol, under the BC Liquor Control Act. It also proposes that the Province call upon the Federal Government to repeal the prohibition on cannabis, or give British Columbia an exemption so that BC can tax and regulate cannabis similar to the regulation of alcohol and tobacco. And it proposes that BC establishes a commission to study what would be required to establish a legal and regulated model for the production and use of cannabis by adults.

A motion was endorsed to support the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana at the UBCM meeting councillors attended last year.

“It sounds really smart to me,” Mayor Andru McCracken said at July 23’s council meeting, referring to the draft bill. But he also admitted that he hasn’t seen a lot online about what other people think of it, just a lot from the people behind Sensible BC.

“The large consensus at UBCM,” continued McCracken, “was ‘we have a problem here, we are wasting a ton of resources, and we should fix it.'”

Councillor Latimer recalled that there were a number of former and current RCMP members at that forum, many of whom were in favor of decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana. Because the RCMP is an integral part of our community, it was motioned and passed that Village Staff would get the thoughts of the local RCMP on the issue before making a resolution. A member of the public during comment period suggested consulting other experts as well.

Sensible BC has started organizing canvassers, and can begin collecting signatures in September. They will have 90 days to collect signatures of support from at least 10 percent of the registered voters in each of BC’s 85 ridings – over 400,000 signatures. If they collect those signatures, the Sensible Policing Act can be brought to a referendum in September 2014.

By: Korie Marshall