Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Pot Advocate's Petition to Decriminalize Marijuana Comes Up Short

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Pot Advocate's Petition to Decriminalize Marijuana Comes Up Short

Article excerpt

Petition to decriminalize pot comes up short

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VICTORIA - Marijuana activist Dana Larsen says while a petition campaign to decriminalize pot fell short, it sparked a buzz across British Columbia and he's planning to fire up a second drive soon.

Larsen said Monday his bid to use B.C.'s direct democracy laws to either prompt a vote in the provincial legislature or set off a non-binding referendum needed about 100,000 more signatures. But he promised to launch a second petition before the next federal election in 2015.

Larsen's Sensible BC tour group arrived at Elections BC in its so-called "Cannabus," with "Light My Fire" by The Doors blaring in the background.

"This represents a lot of hard work from a lot of people, working many, many hours. This is over 200,000 signatures here, many tens-of-thousands of hours of volunteer labour from canvassers all across the province working on this important campaign."

The campaign proposed a law that would prevent police from enforcing simple marijuana possession laws.

"We do not have enough to trigger a referendum, but I think this is a remarkable achievement," Larson told a small group of supporters and the media.

Members of the group then carted eight file boxes of gathered signatures into the Elections BC office.

Under the Recall and Initiative Act, the signatures of at least 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the province's 85 electoral districts are required to prompt a vote in the legislature or a non-binding referendum. Larsen needed to collect slightly more than 300,000 signatures by Monday's deadline.

"I feel pretty good overall with what we've accomplished here," said Larsen. "Getting 210,000 signatures with an army of volunteers in 90 days is quite an accomplishment. Our referendum system in B.C. is brutally difficult to get on the ballot. …

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