Cloverdale store acts as marijuana petition sign up spot

Gypsy Moon owner says people 60 and older are the ones signing Sensible BC's petition in support of decriminalizing marijuana.

A business in downtown Cloverdale is acting as a local sign up spot for the petition to decriminalize marijuana.

Gypsy Moon has copies of the petition for more than one riding, so registered voters from Surrey-Cloverdale and beyond who want to add their signature to the campaign are welcome to drop by the store at 5693 176 Street, Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Proponents from the group Sensible BC want to force a September 2014 referendum on decriminalizing marijuana and began gathering signatures across the province Sept. 9.

Sensible BC is three weeks into a 90-day campaign to collect enough signatures in every B.C. electoral district to force a provincial referendum on legislation that would block police enforcement for possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Sign up stations like the one at Gypsy Moon are run by volunteers.

Store owner Denise Cooke says she contacted Sensible BC offering up her metaphysical books and gift store as a sign up spot because she favours the decriminalization of marijuana.

“I am supporting it,” she said.

She expected young people to be the first in line to sign the petition, but, despite marijuana’s association as a recreational drug, she says the signatories she’s seen are mostly people aged 60 and up. That surprised her, until she found out the reason they’re compelled to sign: most are people with medical conditions who are taking prescribed marijuana for health reasons and are anxious to end the stigma associated with cannabis.

Cooke also said petition signers have also had difficulty finding sign up locations in the Cloverdale area.

According to SensibleBC, there are 158 signup locations in B.C. To find where to sign the petition, visit Volunteers may also register as a canvasser to help collect signatures.

The most populous riding for Sensible BC is Surrey-Cloverdale, with 52,955 registered voters. Canvassers will have to sign up 5,296 registered voters in this riding alone.

Sensible BC director Dana Larsen, pictured at right, said 2,500 canvassers are now registered and are getting more efficient at signing people up.

Larsen expects the bulk of sign-ups will happen in the second half of the campaign, closer to the early December deadline.

Meanwhile, the campaign has formally complained to Elections BC that some of its petitioners were blocked from signing up transit riders at SkyTrain stations in Richmond, Burnaby and Surrey on Sept. 25, and again at Surrey Central station on Sunday when SkyTrain attendants summoned the RCMP.

Canvassers have a right to campaign at rapid transit stations where they can reach large numbers of people, and TransLink has already accepted Sensible BC’s legal right to canvas at stations, Larsen said, adding he’s been told the incidents may stem from internal miscommunication.

“We just want them to leave us alone,” he said. “We’re allowed to canvas there as long as we’re not obstructing anybody or blocking their path or being rude or anything.”

Transit Police spokesperson Anne Drennan said that while canvassing at SkyTrain stations is permitted, the petitioners had set up tent-like canopies, tables and chairs without getting TransLink permission.

“Because of the very limited time frame we have for this campaign, every day counts,” Larsen said.

– With files Black Press

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