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

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

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read