North Coast surpasses target for Sensible BC petition

While the Sensible BC initiative failed in B.C., there were enough North Coast voters who agreed pot possession shouldn't be a crime.

While a campaign aiming to decriminalize the possession of marijuana didn’t get enough support province-wide to force a referendum, there were enough North Coast voters who agreed pot possession shouldn’t be a crime.

Trevor Kayzer, Sensible BC’s North Coast coordinator, said more than 1,700 signatures were collected in the riding, which consists of Prince Rupert, Port Edward, Haida Gwaii, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.

“We didn’t make [our goal of] 15 per cent, but we made 10 per cent plus a few hundred for cushion,” he said.

There were 32 canvassers registered to collect signatures on the North Coast, with Kayzer saying eight people did most of the work in Prince Rupert.

While at the beginning of the 90-day signing period North Coast signatures were coming in slowly, Kayzer said he was confident all along the riding could reach the needed amount.

“We could see it was possible. The biggest surprise I had was the number of people saying they wouldn’t sign because they feared they would lose their job. That was pretty sad,” Kayzer said.

“I really appreciate the support Prince Rupert and the North Coast gave us. It’s great to see people exercise their democratic rights, which is why I was disappointed to see people who were afraid to.”

The campaign’s website states that Sensible BC will be launching another signature-gathering campaign in the “not-to-distant future”.

“I’m sad we didn’t do it overall in B.C., but it sounds as if Dana’s going to go at it again so we’ll have another kick at it,” Kayzer said.

The Sensible BC campaign proposed an amendment to the BC Legislature Police Act, instructing police not to spend any resources, money or time on cases of marijuana possession. To make the amendment, the campaign needed to force a referendum on the subject with a signature petition.

Sensible BC needed to collect 300,000 signatures, or ten per cent of constituents in each of British Columbia’s 85 ridings, to force a referendum. Overall, the campaign got 210,000 signatures, which is two thirds of what was needed.