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

Quilts of Valour in the East Kootenay

“You gave me hope by what you may see as a simple gift of appreciation…. you have contributed to the healing of the soul of a lost soldier.”

Bears now emerging from hibernation

It’s that time of year when bears start to poke their heads… Continue reading

Another successful year on the rails for Kimberley Underground Mining Railway

The Sullivan Mine and Railway Society, which operates the Kimberley Underground Mining… Continue reading

Kimberley Alpine Resort presents North Star Retro Day

The Spring Splash and the Dummy Downhill events will take place the following weekend.

KRRG international dinner postponed

For the Bulletin Due to unforeseen circumstances, the 3rd Annual International Dinner… Continue reading

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

‘Not well thought out:’ Arizona family slams B.C. speculation tax

American family spends half the year in vacation home on Vancouver Island

Family of B.C. wildfire victim wants better emergency preparedness for vulnerable people

Williams Lake’s David Jeff “fell through the cracks”

Senate backs bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Justin Trudeau reminded senators that his government was elected on a promise to legalize pot

Where Canadians buy real estate abroad: report

Hot Spots: Top 30 home-buying destinations for Canadians in the Americas

Ban on grizzly bear hunt, new rules take effect April 1

Taxidermists, tanners will have to report on any grizzly bears or parts brought to them

Ontario father grief stricken over murder of ex-wife and children

‘No words to explain,’ grieving father of slain teens says in statement

Russian Embassy calls Trudeau’s criticism of Putin unproductive

The Russian Embassy is firing back at Trudeau for criticizing President Vladimir Putin

Most Read