Pro-marijuana petition faces uphill battle in B.C.

A pro-marijuana group that is attempting to trigger a referendum to limit police enforcement of marijuana laws in B.C. is facing an uphill battle to gather enough signatures.

The 90-day campaign by the group Sensible B.C. has now hit the halfway mark.

But the group has only gathered about a third of the necessary 400,000 signatures required by provincial law to trigger a referendum, according to the campaign's director Dana Larsen.

"Plenty of people who sign are not marijuana enthusiasts. They don't necessarily like marijuana, they just recognize that prohibition has failed and there's better ways of dealing with this," says Larsen.

"You're not signing a form saying, 'I like to smoke pot.'' You're saying, 'I want to change the marijuana laws."

Larson says it will be a tough run to the finish because they'll have to double the rate of signatures they've been getting, but they have doubled the amount of volunteers working on the campaign.

The campaign, which was launched on Sept. 9, has three months to collect signatures from 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the province's ridings.

If the group is successful, it could trigger a referendum on a draft bill, entitled the Sensible Policing Act, which would amend the Police Act.

The bill would prohibit the use of provincial police resources to enforce simple possession-and-use laws for adults.

Larsen says even though pot laws are under federal jurisdiction, the province still has the power to tell police where to spend its resources.