BRITISH COLUMBIA

Dana Larsen, Sensible B.C. Campaign Gets Organized (VIDEO)

07/23/2013 07:07 EDT | Updated 07/23/2013 07:09 EDT

Dana Larsen's Sensible B.C. campaign is getting down to business as organizers behind the initiative to force a vote on decriminalizing marijuana held their first planning session in Surrey on Monday.

"It’s an issue whose time has come," Larsen said.

The campaign is gathering signatures to force a referendum on the proposed Sensible Policing Act which, if passed, would stop B.C. police from using resources to combat cannabis possession.

The act would also call on the federal government to repeal cannabis prohibition by removing the drug from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, or by granting B.C. an exemption that would allow the province to tax and regulate it.

Larsen said in a YouTube video that current marijuana laws are "wasting police resources and allowing organized crime to profit off of B.C.'s $6 billion marijuana industry."

Sensible B.C. will need to collect signatures from 10 per cent of eligible voters in every political riding between September 9 and December 5 to make the referendum happen, and even Larsen admits that goal is a daunting one.

"Our challenge isn't convincing people to support this idea, our challenge is just the logistical one," Larsen told News1130 earlier this month.

"To physically collect all these signatures in that short period of time is very, very challenging, so that's really the hard part. But winning the vote? That will be easy."

To that end, Sensible B.C. is recruiting thousands of canvassers to work at collecting those signatures. Volunteers must be registered voters.

The Sensible B.C. initiative comes after the states of Washington and Colorado voted to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use last November.

U.S. Justice Department officials said at the time that enforcement of the country's Controlled Substances Act "remains unchanged," although U.S. President Barack Obama later he said he had "bigger fish to fry" than going after recreational pot users.

However Washington regulators were still drafting rules for the state's marijuana industry earlier this month, and were seeking clearer instruction on how to set up a system that wouldn't be shut down by the U.S. government.

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