Sensible B.C.'s campaign to decriminalize marijuana is coming to SFU March 14 and it's bringing a group of panelists that are sure to impress, including Burnaby's own Mayor Derek Corrigan.
The forum, which is the fifth of fifteen scheduled events, is expected to be yet another lively discussion on the ever-popular illegal substance.
"It's been a terrific show of support for cannabis reform here in B.C.," said Philippe Lucas, a former Victoria city councillor and one of five members of the campaign's advisory board.
And Burnaby residents can expect no less, especially with Corrigan on the panel.
In a previous interview with the Now, Corrigan voiced his personal support of putting an end to pot prohibition in B.C. He, along with seven other mayors, sent an open letter to Premier Christy Clark and B.C. NDP leader, Adrian Dix, in April of 2012 calling for the regulation of marijuana.
"I thought the fact that we had seen a coalition of ex-mayors, and ex-attorneys general and health professionals taking a stand on this issue really meant we had to take it to the next step, which is elected officials taking a position," Corrigan said.
And Lucas couldn't agree more.
Sensible B.C. hopes that the forums will show politicians that the public is behind them when it comes to marijuana reform and will support them on this issue.
"Cannabis reform is going to gain (them) support and it's going to gain them votes," he said.
And with a provincial election looming on the horizon, votes are going to become especially important to politicians looking to keep or gain a seat in the legislature.
Much like speed limits, marijuana laws are certainly not the most popular in the province, Lucas said, and now that Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana, there isn't any reason why B.C. shouldn't do the same.
"For so long we heard from the federal, and even some provincial and municipal, governments that we couldn't even contemplate changing our cannabis laws because the US would never tolerate it," he said. "That discussion is out of the window and the last thing we want to be is falling behind."
The discussion on the table at the Sensible B.C. forums is how current laws should be changed and what role the government will play in regulating, and ultimately, taxing marijuana.
"It's no longer a matter of whether or not we should change our cannabis policy but what that change is going to look like," he said.
So far, Lucas is pleased with how the forums have been running. From strong turnouts to engaging panelists, the response from the public has caused most forums to run longer than scheduled.
"We're leaving about half the time at these panels to engage the audience in the discussion," he said. "People have been very keen in the discussion."
Sensible B.C.'s forum at SFU is from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Shrum Science Centre (SSC C9002) on Thursday March 14.