Dan Mentze, left signs the Sensible BC marijuana decriminalization petition as volunteer Kenneth Clements goes through a list of people who have signed at the corner of Rutland Road and Highway 33 on Wednesday afternoon. Sensible BC will be in downtown Kelowna seeking signatures on Thursday.
About 7,000 people in the three Kelowna-area ridings have signed the Sensible BC petition calling for marijuana to be decriminalized, Mark Conlin said Wednesday.
The campaign started Sept. 9, and must conclude by Dec. 8, according to rules set down by Elections BC. Local organizers aim to collect 20,000 names by the deadline.
"Things are going pretty good," Conlin said. "We're on target, and we're very, very confident we're going to make our goal locally."
The local campaign started with about 100 registered canvassers, most of whom are busy collecting names from their family and friends. About 140 canvassers are now involved, Conlin said.
There's also one mobile station that sets up at high-profile public locations such as downtown Westbank and the corner of Highway 33 and Rutland Road.
"We're trying to get a second mobile station up and running, because the one we do have is proving to be quite popular," Conlin said. "A lot of people see the booth, pull over and sign the petition, and then are on their way."
Occasionally, canvassers are confronted by people who don't think marijuana decriminalization is a good idea. "We do get that kind of stuff, and you would expect it because this is just like any social or political campaign," Conlin said.
But it's suggested to canvassers that they not engage in any heated debates. "We don't have the time for that, nor is this the time for that," he said. "A full discussion will happen if we are successful in gathering enough names to trigger the referendum."
The campaign must collect the signatures of 10 per cent of the registered voters in each of the province's 85 electoral ridings.
The provincial directors of Sensible BC are not revealing how the signature-gathering effort is going across British Columbia.
Conlin said he's heard the targets have already been reached in some Lower Mainland ridings, where population densities are high. But it may be more of a challenge to collect the required number of signatures in ridings in the large, sparsely populated areas of Central and Northern B.C., he says.
"I think what might end up happening is canvassers from areas where the
target has been met would go up north to help out," Conlin said.