Sensible BC's Dana Larsen says the group's marijuana reform petition has failed to force a referendum

Marijuana referendum petition fizzles but campaigners vow to fight on

Sensible BC gets 210,000 signatures, reaches threshold in 19 of 85 ridings

The Sensible BC campaign to spark the decriminalization of marijuana in B.C. is officially up in smoke after falling short of its goal.

Pot activists got 210,000 signatures or about two-thirds of the 300,000 needed – 10 per cent of voters in all 85 B.C. ridings – for their initiative petition to potentially trigger a referendum. They had aimed for a target of 450,000 to provide a buffer against disqualified signatures.

“It’s a pretty remarkable accomplishment,” Sensible BC head Dana Larsen.

“We’ve definitely demonstrated a high level of organization and support for this cause. Had we been operating under the rules of pretty much any other referendum system in the world, we would have qualified to be on the ballot.”

He said the 4,500 registered petitioners – triple the number at the start of the 90-day campaign – reached the threshold required by Elections BC in 19 electoral districts and got at least eight per cent in five more.

Successful local campaigns happened on much of Vancouver Island, the Kootenays and other parts of the Interior.

But in the vote-rich Lower Mainland that holds the most districts, marijuana advocates came up short.

They reached the 10 per cent threshold in just Vancouver-West End and Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, with no other local wins in the rest of Metro Vancouver or the Fraser Valley. They came closest in the three North Shore ridings with eight per cent plus.

Sensible BC aimed to compel the province to pass legislation banning police from expending any time and resources on simple marijuana possession.

Larsen said canvassers were harried in some areas by opponents and at times by calls to police as they tried to collect signatures on SkyTrain and BC Ferries.

The outcome is nowhere near the 700,000 signatures gathered by Fight HST forces en route to their winning referendum.

But Larsen argues the province must now look “very seriously” at the marijuana issue, particularly as states such as Washington and Colorado move to full pot legalization.

He says history shows even failed campaigns can have impact.

A prior initiative in 2002 pushing proportional representation got 98,000 signatures but led to a citizens assembly on electoral reform and ultimately two referendum questions on the issue.

Signatures were being delivered to Elections BC Monday and Larsen said Sensible BC will take a break over Christmas before deciding when to mount a new petition campaign, along with other forms of political engagement.

“We’re definitely going to do it again,” he said.

 

Districts where Sensible BC says it reached 10 per cent

Alberni – Pacific RimBoundary – SimilkameenColumbia River – RevelstokeComox ValleyKootenay EastKootenay WestNanaimo – North CowichanNechako LakesNelson – CrestonNorth CoastPeace River SouthPentictonPowell River – Sunshine CoastSkeenaVancouver – Mount PleasantVancouver – West EndVictoria – Beacon HillVictoria – Swan LakeWestside – Kelowna

See Sensible BC’s full list of riding results

Just Posted

Rockslide closes Coquihalla northbound

Highway 5 could be closed overnight in the northbound lanes

UPDATE: Wind warning has ended for Metro Vancouver

More than 34,000 BC Hydro customers in the dark on Sunday morning in the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast

Downtown Mission: Ready to revitalize

With the bidding process underway, construction could start by mid-March

Guilty plea issued in case where man, 86, was assaulted and robbed

Hughie Stump pleads guilty to break-and-enter in relation to Abbotsford incident

WIND WARNING: Metro Vancouver expecting 100 km/h gusts Saturday night

Environment Canada issues warns of possibly dangerous conditions

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington on Vancouver Island

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, vehicles buried under more than three feet of snow

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Coquihalla drivers prepare for snow

Wintry conditions persist, with snow warnings for Coquihalla

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

Most Read