Editor, The News:
After 90 days, the results are in – the SensibleBC campaign for cannabis reform collected more than 200,000 signatures, two-thirds of the way to its goal of 10 per cent of voters.
The campaign got almost eight per cent in the Maple Ridge-Mission riding and seven per cent in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows.
In comparison, the successful petitions in Washington State and Colorado got 3.6 per cent over 180 days, without the need to go riding by riding.
Nevertheless, anytime that many people sign a petition calling for change to our drug policy, politicians should pay attention.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives are lost to reason; they just want to throw more people in jail for doing something that shouldn’t be a crime.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark, on the other hand, could really help the province’s bottom line by making some common sense changes as to how our police do their business.
All we need is better leadership.
There are a lot of jobs and economic activity at stake.
Locally, SensibleBC had more than 75 canvassers and collected 5,400 signatures over the past three months.
They knocked on doors, attended events, approached friends, family and co-workers, and stood at a table on 228th Street, taking questions and signatures.
We are proud of every one of them for stepping forward, and most have committed to the next fight, whenever that is.
We have a solid foundation to build upon and next time we just have to bring friends.
Funny thing is, most were new to any political process and will be a force in the future.
We will certainly be encouraging them to stay involved.
Along the way, we met lots of people who were grateful that we were fighting this fight for them.
But we also met some very fearful and angry people.
We were accused of being a bunch of drug addicts, pot heads and criminals who just want to get their children hooked on drugs.
Of course, the reality was we are parents, grandparents and honest, law-abiding citizens who want to control, regulate and educate about cannabis so we can keep it away from those same children.
Instead of lying to our children about cannabis, we should educate them so they will make responsible choices.
Our fight was for adults being able to make decisions without unfocussed prejudice or unjust laws interfering.
Prejudice produces a stigma that is based on fear and ignorance.
The most common fear that made the difference locally was from those who wanted to sign, but felt they couldn’t because their boss or the government would find out and use it against them.
Prejudice doesn’t trump the incredible medicinal uses of cannabis or the lack of negative effects recreational use has on the individual or society.
Sadly, the stigma that is produced through pot-prejudice has kept many people from accessing the medicinal uses. That is the real crime.
To quote Plato “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”.
Lastly, thanks to those 5400 people who threw aside the veils of fear and ignorance and by signing embraced hope and knowledge and stepped into the light.