Plenty of consequences for B.C. marijuana users

Higher-than-average arrest rates in B.C. for simple possession of pot

Re: Marijuana vote not a sure thing (Our View, July 17)

This week the editorial staff at Victoria News draws our attention to the Sensible B.C. initiative. Coming this fall to a province near you, its aim is to collect enough B.C. voter signatures to justify a cannabis referendum.

I am happy that the staff call this initiative a good thing. I am puzzled by their choice of focus: it may never fly; it may be symbolic at best. But I am astonished by their claim that in B.C. we “buy, sell, grow, and consume without fear of serious consequences.”

If only it were true. British Columbians are charged for simple possession at double the rate of any other province – up over 88 per cent in the last decade according to the Vancouver Sun – 3,500 arrests in 2010, according to Dana Larsen.

A successful referendum would direct police resources away from persecuting cannabis users. We need this referendum, especially in B.C. So don’t ask, “Will this fly? Is this symbolic?”

Go out there and join SensibleBC.ca. There is more at stake here than meets the editorial eye.

Judith Stamps

Victoria