The Sensible BC campaign for marijuana reform kicks off Sept. 9 and organizers are scrambling to find volunteers in every riding to help gather enough signatures to get a draft bill on decriminalization accepted by B.C.’s chief electoral officer.
North Delta resident Bob Mulholland has taken on the role of regional organizer – if only temporarily – to help get the ball rolling.
The reason he’s so passionate about getting marijuana decriminalized is simple. He says it saved his life.
Mulholland was fighting Hodgkins Disease in 2000-2001 and underwent six months of chemotherapy to fight the cancer. During that time he was so sick from treatment that he couldn’t keep any food down. Not a single bite.
“I even converted my own mother,” he said, regarding his marijuana use. “She had always been anti-anything to do with that.”
One day Mulholland’s mother visited him after chemotherapy with one of his favourite meals–Swiss Chalet chicken–but after a few bites he couldn’t keep the food down.
“I told her I’m going to call my friend, she’s going to come over here, we’re going to go out onto the balcony and smoke a joint and when we come back in we’re going to eat,” he said.
After he returned from smoking he not only downed his entire plate, he went back for seconds and thirds. His mother was sold.
Even prior to his cancer diagnosis, however, Mulholland says he was a recreational marijuana user, using it to relax or unwind at the end of a day. He says those who know about his marijuana use are generally supportive of it, whether for recreational or medicinal use.
The Sensible BC campaign may be facing a steep uphill battle. Dana Larsen, the campaign’s financial agent and most recognizable face of marijuana reform along with Jodie and Marc Emery, will have to collect the signatures of at least 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the province’s 85 ridings.
Similar to the Stop HST campaign, the Sensible campaign has just 90 days to accomplish this feat, which would require an estimated 400,000 signatures.
If that target can be reached, the chief electoral officer will have 42 days to verify the validity of the signatures. If that happens, the bill will go to a legislative committee where members can either table a report recommending it be introduced to the legislature, where it could die on the order paper, or refer it back to the chief electoral officer for an initiative vote, as happened with the HST campaign. That vote would take place Sept. 27, 2014.
In order for all that to happen, marijuana advocates will need to join the campaign quickly.
“I’m going to be doing everything I can to try and coordinate and delegate to whoever else is in my riding and make sure we get the right number of signatures,” says Mulholland.
The campaign officially gets underway on Monday, Sept. 9 with signature collecting and organizers will have until December to reach their goal.
According to a Forum Research poll conducted last week, 36 per cent of Canadians prefer legalization, while 34 per cent are in favour of decriminalization. Another 15 per cent felt the laws should be kept as they are.
Marijuana legalization and decriminalization discussions have reached a fever pitch in the Canadian political climate in recent weeks over federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s public admission of pot smoking and his goal to legalize the substance should he become prime minister in the future.