The Sensible BC campaign seeking the decriminalization of marijuana in B.C. failed to reach the number of signatures needed to force a referendum on the controversial subject.
The petition gathered more than 210,000 signatures of the 300,000 required, which is 10 per cent of eligible voters in B.C.
Although the drive failed there is plenty to be proud of, Glen Greene, a lawyer whose office was one place signatures were collected in the Stikine riding, said.
“Provincially we did very well,” he said. “But we ran into a few hurdles due to a campaign that had little to no advertising.
“I thought it was going to be a cake-walk. Initially, I thought people would come out in droves. I am quite surprised by the lack of signatures in this area.”
The reason for the shortfall is clear to Greene.
“We were just a bunch of amateurs,” he said. “That being the case, I think we proved there is merit to a potential referendum question.”
Greene’s experience in the Stikine riding contrasts Sensible BC’s progenitor Dana Larsen’s comments about the campaign in the Lower Mainland.
“We’ve definitely demonstrated a high level of organization and support for this cause,” Larsen said. “Had we been operating under any other referendum system in the world, we would have qualified to be on the ballot.”
However, the Stikine riding mirrored most Lower Mainland results.
“We got to more than five per cent here,” Greene said. “We were hoping for around 1,300 and actually landed at about 700.”
The Sensible BC campaign may have suffered growing pains due to a number of high profile people not signing up despite showing support before the campaign began in September, Greene said.
“We didn’t have any of the political parties involved,” he said, which is very different than the HST situation. “You had Bill Vander Zalm, a professional politician, who was able to influence the voters to take the wrong path, in my opinion. They created a disaster that will take the people of B.C. decades to pay for.”
Greene brings up the professional political arena to highlight the lack of several political figures who decided to remain silent on the Sensible BC petition.
One reason for no local voice from the Smithers council is Sensible BC never brought the issue before elected officials, Mayor Taylor Bachrach said.
“We didn’t receive one request from a [Sensible BC] delegation,” Bachrach said. “There were also no letters received for information. So it’s a topic that never came up [at council].”
The future of the Sensible BC petition is now up in the air, but the campaign may not require a second run, Greene added.
“The federal Liberal Party may do our work for us if elected in 2015,” he said.
The reason Greene became involved with Sensible BC is because of what he sees as the unneeded prosecution of B.C. residents who are found to possess marijuana, which puts a substantial burden on the legal system.
Marijuana cookies cause zero harm to society, Greene said.
“There’s no medical evidence of any harm whatsoever [caused by marijuana],” Greene said. “I don’t know of any societal harm either. It’s a catch 22 for the RCMP to claim societal harm stating that it’s only the Hells Angels that sell it. Maybe if we made it legal, so that it can be sold in the liquor store, we wouldn’t have any of these problems.”
Sensible BC asks ‘the B.C. government to pass the Sensible Policing Act, which will stop police from searching or arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for possession of marijuana.’