Victoria high about cannabis: UBCM votes yes to regulation

High event turnout and Union of BC Municipalities vote proves that, for cannabis supporters, the movement has arrived

Dana Larsen

High event turnout and Union of B.C. Municipalities support proves that, for cannabis supporters, the movement has arrived

Great news for cannabis supporters: your movement is here.

Over 500 people filled Victoria’s Alix Goolden Hall Monday night, Sept. 24, to be part of a community discussion on “A Sensible Cannabis Policy For B.C.”

But while five rousing speakers drew cheers and even standing ovations from the audience, the biggest news came from one group named Sensible BC that is proposing a question be put on the ballot in the next provincial referendum in September 2014, asking voters whether or not they want the Government of Canada to allow the provincial regulation of cannabis.

Though the wording of the question is still being approved by Elections BC, enthusiasts are calling this movement similar to the anti-HST campaign — but with even more support.

“People are calling me the Bill Vander Zalm of marijuana,” Dana Larsen, cannabis advocate and Sensible BC founder, told the crowd. “We are perfectly positioned in B.C. right now to create this change. Cannabis prohibition causes far more harm than marijuana itself ever could, and we are seeing more support for this movement than there was for ending the HST … Stephen Harper doesn’t always get what he wants.”

The group will need to collect approximately 400,000 signatures to get the question on the ballot, and has already begun to solicit help with leg work to get the petition in the hands of voters. At Monday night’s event, seniors, adults and even high school students rose to the mic to ask how they could assist.

And, in a historic move on Wed., Sept. 26, the Union of BC Municipalities voted in favour of a resolution to take a province-wide stance that supports the decriminalization, regulation and taxation of cannabis.

“With cannabis reform polling at 70 per cent, and with the kind of turnout we saw [Monday] night, I think politicians at all levels would do well to pay attention to the voters of B.C. right now,” says Philippe Lucas of the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C., who organized the event. “We live in a society that will judge you for speaking out about drug laws … but there is no single law in B.C. right now that, if reformed, could change so many factors.”

For those who missed the event, a recorded version of the discussion is posted in its entirety at the SensibleBC.ca website. M