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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Exact numbers are not known for active cases in Golden. (File photo)
No cluster in Golden, according to Interior Health

Despite positive cases in the community, no cluster or outbreak has been declared by Interior Health

Glass of whiskey
UBCO substance use clinic goes virtual

The clinic is adapting the way it provides services as the pandemic continues

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

It’s important to be sure how to use your equipment appropriately when in the backcountry. (File photo)
Backcountry Safe seeks to start safety dialogue

The group is hoping that people will learn from their mistakes

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Darrell RIchards and his Harley Davidson Streetglide in front of Discovery House in Penticton on Nov. 5. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Okanagan biker still in running for custom chopper competition

Darrell Richards is sitting in first in the final round of the group stage

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

natural gas
FortisBC partners with UBC Okanagan to reduce emissions

Blending hydrogen, and other Renewable Gas, into the natural gas system will reduce emissions

REN Energy will source waste wood from ATCO Wood Products and other forest companies, as well as brush piles, to create Renewable Natural Gas in a new facility planned for Park Siding just outside of Fruitvale. Townsman file photo.
Kelowna, Calgary energy companies design renewable gas plant near Trail

The new project is in Fruitvale, B.C. and builds on Canada’s green energy economy

Penticton's Courthouse. (File)
Six months jail for robbing Okanagan cannabis dispensary

After time served, the 29-year-old has another month in prison

A semi truck blocks a single lane of traffic on Highway 6 near Kalamalka Lake Road in Vernon Thursday, Nov. 26. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Semi truck blocking single lane near Vernon

Incident near Kalamalka Lake Road delays westbound traffic

Most Read