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Sensible B.C. campaign goes up in smoke

Sensible B.C. Director Dana Larsen makes a Thanksgiving weekend stop in Duncan, during the failed Sensible B.C. tour to legalize marijuana. - Andrew Leong/file
Sensible B.C. Director Dana Larsen makes a Thanksgiving weekend stop in Duncan, during the failed Sensible B.C. tour to legalize marijuana.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

Small town stigmas and closet cannabis smokers are what Sensible BC's Kirk Tousaw points to as reasons for a very slim number of local folks signing on to the legalize pot petition.

The Sensible B.C. campaign to spark the decriminalization of marijuana in B.C. recently went up in smoke after falling short of its goal.

Pot activists got 210,000 signatures or about two-thirds of the 300,000 (10% of voters in all 85 B.C. ridings) needed for their initiative petition to trigger a referendum.

They had set their aims at 450,000 to provide a buffer against disqualified signatures.

"Talking the province-wide campaign, I'm very pleased and gratified with the support we generated across the province," said Tousaw, an attorney who works mostly with cannabis-related cases.

His feelings weren't quite the same for local results. While Nanaimo-North Cowichan was one of 20 ridings to meet the 10% threshold, Cowichan Valley was one of 37 with less than 5% of folks putting pen to paper.

"I have spoke to a number of people who've told me they were afraid of retaliation, by police or their neighbours," Tousaw said. "It's a shame. I think it says something about the issue itself, that there is still a lot of fear and stigmas associated."

"The results in Cowichan are interesting," said Tousaw. "I know from my professional experience, there are a tremendous number of growers and users in Cowichan. I've also seen a lot of support for the issue, but there's the small town fears and it's just one of these closet issues."

Sensible B.C. aimed to motivate the province to pass legislation banning police from expending any time and resources on simple marijuana possession.

Sensible B.C. head Dana Larsen said the organization will regroup over Christmas before deciding when to mount a new petition campaign, along with other forms of political engagement.

With files from Tom Fletcher

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