Campaign aims to bring pot vote to B.C.


Photo by: Roshini Sakhrani, Waterfront Skytrain Station

Sensible BC is actively working on a petition campaign for a referendum to legalize marijuana in the province.

Ivan Williams, a 21-year-old volunteer with Sensible BC, set up a table on Oct. 7 outside the Waterfront Skytrain station to collect signatures.

“We’re just trying to collect 10 per cent of registered voters in all 85 provincial constituencies to have a referendum on decriminalizing marijuana,” said Williams. He argues that $10 million fro taxpayers is being wasted annually on criminalizing pot, when that money could be put towards something more important, such as health care or education.

Dana Larsen, a marijuana activist and executive director of Sensible BC, told the Globe and Mail earlier that he is hoping that the campaign will lead to enforcing a “sensible policing law” that would eradicate unreasonable search and seizures for simple cases that involve possession of pot.

Williams said that it’s ludicrous that people can get a criminal record for possession of marijuana, because that would make it difficult for Canadians when they cross the American border.

In 2011 in B.C.,there were 3,580 criminal charges laid for possession of marijuana, according to Sensible BC, and the number of charges laid each year has been growing.

“If marijuana is legalized, I believe that there should be limitations, like the ones enforced with alcohol. [You] must be 19 or older to purchase it. It should be the same with marijuana,” Williams said.

Silvia Hagen, 40-year-old volunteer working with Williams, said that the referendum doesn’t only represent legalization, but also the freedom of choice.

“A lot of us that are a part of this campaign don’t smoke marijuana but want freedom from politicians dictating what we can and cannot do,” Hagen said.

“I used to smoke pot when I was in my 20s. So many people have done it, they just need to come out of the marijuana closet.”

The stigma associated with pot and drugs is hindering some people from signing the referendum, according to Williams and Hagen. Some people are afraid that putting their name down would mean they could lose their job.

Williams, Hagen and other volunteers will be collecting signatures until the first week of December. They are also urging people to come out as volunteers.


  • Avatar
    Reply October 10, 2013


    What is the logic behind advocating to legalise drugs? Why initiate a campaign for an activity that we know will not do any good to the society? What’s next, a campaign to legalise cocaine?

  • Samantha Lego
    Reply October 11, 2013

    Samantha Lego

    We’ve legalised cigarrettes and alcohol – both of which can be considered addictive substances or drugs. Legalising pot is this century’s version of overthrowing prohibition back in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Besides, pot is proven to be a lot safer than alcohol if not less addictive.

    The Lancet released a study saying that there are no recorded deaths from marijuana and the amount it would take to overdose on THC is extremely high compared to other drugs. The same cannot be said of cocaine or alcohol.

    Part of the logic behind legalisation is established in the article: “$10 million from taxpayers is being wasted annually on criminalizing pot, when that money could be put towards something more important, such as health care or education.” There are other arguments that outline the pros and cons that you can find here:

    That’s not considering the implications legalised pot would have on the medical community which, according to Health Canada, more than 28,000 people are using for relief from numerous symptoms that you can find here:

    If you want further information, this Maclean’s article offers interesting points:

  • Alycia Sundar
    Reply October 14, 2013

    Alycia Sundar

    I completely agree Sam! The criminalization and cost of trying to patrol it is ridiculously large, money which could be used much more wisely if pot became taxable. Pot and Cocaine can’t really be classified under the same category as far as harmfulness or addictiveness. Taxing legal pot could be an awesome revenue source especially for BC.

  • Roshini Sakhrani
    Reply October 16, 2013

    Roshini Sakhrani

    @sam i completely agree with you cocaine is a different subject altogether.

    according this article by the national post, if marijuana were legalized, canada would supposedly rake in $4 billion annually in tax revenue

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