The Sensible BC campaign to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana has been puffed out after a 90-day, province-wide initiative petition failed to get the signatures of 10 percent of voters in each of B.C.’s 85 electoral ridings.

Organizers acquired 210,000 of the 400,000 signatures across the province they were aiming for and managed to cross the 10 percent threshold in 20 of the 85 ridings — including here in Columbia River-Revelstoke, as well as in the neighbouring ridings of Kootenay East, Nelson-Creston and Kootenay West.

“It’s not too shabby, but we were well short (across B.C.),” said Invermere lead canvasser Stephen Lebovits, adding he’s happy he and other Columbia-River Revelstoke organizers managed to hit the 10 per cent mark.

“It was a little more difficult than I thought it would be (in this riding); it was literally down to the last minute,” said Mr. Lebovits, adding local canvassers collected the final signatures in this riding on Tuesday night

(December 3rd) before shipping them on a Greyhound bus the next morning, having them arrive in Vancouver just before the deadline to be included in the final tally.

“If we were firing on all pistons from the beginning, it might have been easier,” said Mr. Lebovits, who became involved in the campaign only partway through the 90-day period, after talking with Kimberley canvasser in Invermere for the day and learning nobody from Invermere was canvassing.

Mr. Lebovits raised awareness through social media such as Facebook and garnered many “likes”, but said it wasn’t always easy to convert “likes” into signatures.

“I gained as many signatures sitting outside AG Valley Foods for six hours one day than I did the previous two weeks using social media,” he said.

Obstacles included the stigma attached to marijuana and uncertainty on what exactly the petition was about, said Mr. Lebovits, adding he frequently had to explain the considerable difference between decriminalizing of possession and outright legalization.

“I suspect there’ll be another attempt (by Sensible BC),” he said. “In the meantime, we shouldn’t let the momentum we’ve started now dissipate, we need to looking into repealing the new Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations.”

The new regulations, which replaced existing legislation in spring 2013, will have an adverse affect on several Invermere residents, according to Mr. Lebovits.

The Sensible BC campaign to decriminalize marijuana has been puffed out province wide, but managed to cross the 10 percent threshold it needed in each provincial riding (to trigger a referendum) here in Columbia River-Revelstoke.