British Columbians are taking a keen interest in a petition that asks for the Canadian government to fully repeal the prohibition of marijuana.
Of 12,549 signatures gathered so far, residents of B.C. account for 5,133 of them. That’s 41 percent, whereas B.C. accounts for roughly 13 percent of the country’s population.
The petition was launched on February 10 and is sponsored by Elizabeth May, leader of the federal Green Party and the B.C. MP for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
More specifically, it calls for the government to remove marijuana from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, end police enforcement against cannabis storefronts, and allow patients prescribed medicinal marijuana to grow their own medicine.
The petition also asks for Ottawa to grant pardons and expunge criminal records for people convicted of past marijuana offences, on a case-by-case basis.
Finally, it suggests that regulations for the sale and taxation of marijuana be left to each province and territory.
The petition’s goal is to gather 50,000 signatures by a deadline of June 9, 2016.
According to a website launched alongside the petition, the idea is to “keep the pressure on the Trudeau government to act quickly, stop arrests, and get going on legalization”.
It devotes special attention to the issue of criminal records.
“Ending cannabis prohibition must also make right the mistakes of the past,” it reads. “When we legalize cannabis we must not forget those who are still in jail now for cannabis, or the many Canadians with cannabis criminal records. We want a quick and easy process for Canadians to apply to have their cannabis criminal records expunged.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected last October. Included among his campaign promises was a pledge to legalize recreational marijuana.
On February 24, he appointed Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice and former Toronto police chief, to head the legalization process.
More recently, on March 1, Trudeau signaled that police should continue to arrest people for marijuana possession.
“The laws haven’t changed yet,” he said in Vancouver during an interview with News 1130. “Pot is still illegal in this country and will be until we bring in a strong regulatory framework.”