By Korie Marshall
Over 200,000 signatures were gathered in BC for the push to decriminalize marijuana. It wasn’t enough to force a public vote, but it isn’t the end of the road for Sensible BC’s push for marijuana law reform.
According to the final tallies from Sensible BC, the required 10 per cent of registered voters signed the petition in 20 of the province’s 85 electoral districts, with over five per cent signing in 28 more districts. Sensible BC was aiming for 400,000 signatures, and estimated they required 300,000.
Chad Moats, a regional organizer of the campaign in Prince George says 2,120 signatures were gathered in the Prince George-Valemount district, about six percent of the registered voters. John Grogan, who helped organize canvassers from Dome Creek to Valemount, says “I am confident we reached a 15 per cent threshold here in the Robson Valley.”
“202,037 signatures is a remarkable achievement. We can be proud of our accomplishment,” said Dana White, Director of Sensible BC, in a message to canvassers. He says that represents almost 12 per cent of the votes cast in the 2013 BC election, and if BC had the same referendum rules as Washington and Colorado, two states which recently legalized marijuana, that would have been enough. He points out BC’s rules are much more challenging, saying no other referendum system in the world requires 85 different forms for collecting signatures, or has such a short time period to collect them.
Larsen says the BC government can still call a vote on the issue, and should, as polls consistently show about 70 per cent of British Columbians want some form of decriminalization or legalization of marijuana. He says 200,000 signatures represent a mandate for the government to take action on the issue. Larsen also says the BC government should have delegations in Washington and Colorado now, studying their move towards legalization and the impacts that will have on BC’s economy.
The Sensible Policing Act, Sensible BC’s proposed legislation, would decriminalize simple possession of marijuana by adults and require the provincial government to work towards legalization of marijuana in BC.
Larsen says Sensible BC will be going to court over the coming months with several organizations he alleges harassed canvassers, to affirm the rights of canvassers to collect signatures for this and other causes. He says they will also be launching another signature-gathering campaign, and will be working over the next few weeks to what was done well and what can be done better.