Sensible BC marijuana reform campaigner Dana Larsen.

Marijuana petitioners face possible defeat, eye relaunch

Sensible BC far short of target with less than three weeks left in campaign

Dana Larsen isn’t conceding defeat yet, but the head of the Sensible BC campaign to reform marijuana policing is already talking about another petition drive if the one now underway fails.

Canvassers have less than three weeks left before the Dec. 9 deadline to submit the petition bearing the signatures of 10 per cent of eligible voters in every B.C. riding.

They have around 150,000 signatures counted as of Nov. 19, or about half the number needed and far short of their target of 450,000 to provide a buffer against disqualified signatures.

“In at least half of the ridings we are struggling,” Larsen said Tuesday, adding that means a quarter or less of the signatures have been gathered. “We have a long way to go.”

Districts with the lowest numbers of signatures include Cariboo, Fort Langley, Langley, Abbotsford and Surrey-Tynehead, Larsen said.

Other areas where canvassers are doing well – either reaching their target or close to it – include Nelson, Creston, Vancouver’s West End, Penticton, Kelowna, Port Alberni and the Similkameen.

“We always knew it was going to be a huge challenge going into the campaign,” Larsen said. “Theres a lot of fear out there. People would love to sign the petition but say they’d lose their job or their employer told them not to. I find that disturbing that people are afraid to express a political opinion.”

He said the main challenge has been the sheer logistics of collecting so many signatures in every riding in just 90 days.

He noted 50,000 signatures came in over the past week, adding a continued surge in the numbers up to the deadline could still put them “in the ballpark.”

Campaigners aim to pass the proposed Sensible Policing Act to bar police from spending any time or resources enforcing the federal law against possessing small amounts of marijuana.

A successful petition would require the B.C. government to introduce the pseudo-decriminalization bill in the Legislature or else put it to a referendum like the one that defeated the harmonized sales tax. The government held that referendum after Fight HST forces gathered 705,000 petition signatures.

“Whether or not we get all the signatures we need, this campaign will absolutely continue,” Larsen said, adding the “army” of supporters will push towards marijuana legalization on multiple fronts.

He said Sensible BC could stage a new petition in the months ahead and try again, potentially getting out of the gate faster by quickly re-registering the 4,000 canvassers now signed up.

“I don’t think we will relaunch immediately,” Larsen said, adding the group would take time to study what worked and what didn’t in the event of defeat. “But almost certainly we would try again in the future.”

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

Just Posted

BEHIND BARS: Relaxed and refreshed at The Palms

Sneak peek at Victoria’s freshest new bar

Ocie Elliott: Facing the Music

Victoria duo describes effects of COVID crisis

YOUR AUGUST HOROSCOPE: It’s Leo Season!

Georgia Nicols giving us insight on what lies ahead this summer

30 years later, Sue Medley’s hit ‘Dangerous Times’ more relevant than ever

Vancouver Island singer/songwriter reflects on her ’90s national hit

Psychological thriller filmed on northern Vancouver Island debuts on AppleTV

‘Woodland’ is set in Haida Gwaii, but was filmed around Port McNeill

Island pub wants people to ‘drop five’ to keep music alive

Royston’s Charlie Aiken thinks his plan can help artists and venues alike

First Arts Alive sculptures of 2020 now installed

Oak Bay’s annual public art exhibition starts anew

Nanaimo fantasy writer co-authoring Old Norse phrase book

Joshua Gillingham partnering with author and professor on ‘Old Norse for Modern Times’

Cowichan’s 39 Days of July deemed a success, despite COVID-19

Musical productions live streamed from the Duncan Showroom this year

Gabriola’s Isle of the Arts Festival goes ‘mini’ on 10th anniversary

Gabriola Arts Council presents scaled-down, workshop-only IOTA Mini festival

Sooke Fine Arts Show reaches new audiences with virtual showcase

Voting for People’s Choice Award open until Aug. 3

Mural artists announced for Nanaimo’s inaugural Hub City Walls festival

Local artists Kara Dee Harrison, Russell Morland and Austin Weflen to paint downtown walls

Most Read