B.C. marijuana petition gets green light

Activist wants to force changes to B.C. Police Act in HST-style campaign to block simple possession charges

Dana Larsen (left) finished fourth in the 2011 NDP leadership contest after MLAs Nicholas Simons and Harry Lali dropped out.

VICTORIA – Elections BC has given approval in principle to marijuana activist Dana Larsen’s bid to lead a petition drive for de-criminalizing marijuana possession.

Larsen has proposed that B.C. go around the federal law with a “Sensible Policing Act” that would disallow the use of B.C. police resources to prosecute simple possession of small amounts of pot. As of Sept. 9, Larsen will be allowed to begin collecting signatures referendum similar to that used to reverse the harmonized sales tax.

Individuals and groups have until Aug. 12 to register with Elections BC to oppose the initiative, run ads for or against the petition or collect signatures.

Larsen, who was involved with the B.C. Marijuana Party before running for the leadership of the B.C. NDP in 2011, has worked for the last year to build support for what he calls Sensible BC. His organization will have 90 days from Sept. 9 to collect signatures from 10 per cent of registered provincial voters in each of B.C.’s 85 electoral districts.

If that threshold is reached, Elections BC would hold a province-wide initiative vote, likely by mail as was done to repeal the HST.

Decriminalizing pot has received mainstream support in recent years, including a narrow majority vote at the 2012 Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

In a debate at that convention in Victoria last September, former B.C. Liberal attorney general Geoff Plant advocated for loosening marijuana laws, as has since been done in the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado.

The idea was opposed by criminologist  Darryl Plecas, who was elected B.C. Liberal MLA for  Abbotsford South in the May provincial election.

Larsen has had a colourful career, including editor of Vancouver-based Cannabis Culture magazine and co-founder of the Vancouver Seed Bank, which has sold seeds for marijuana, poppies, peyote and coca.

Larsen resigned as an NDP candidate in the 2008 federal election, after videos surfaced showing his drug use a decade earlier.

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

Just Posted

VIDEO: Firefighters on scene at Castlegar house fire

The fire has since spread to an adjacent property

Zoning hearing scheduled for major Castlegar housing development

Phase two of Twin Rivers Estates needs a zoning change before moving forward

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read