Marijuana petition group will not be at Marine Fest

NANAIMO – A group campaigning to de-criminalize marijuana possession has been denied booth space at one of Nanaimo's largest festivals.

A group campaigning to de-criminalize marijuana possession has been denied booth space at one of Nanaimo’s largest festivals.

Sensible B.C., a group led by marijuana activist Dana Larsen, proposes an amendment to the Police Act that would disallow police in B.C. to spend any time, money or resources on cases of simple possession of cannabis.

Elections B.C. has given approval in principal for the group to lead a petition drive and starting Sept. 9, Sensible B.C. will have 90 days to collect signatures from at least 10 per cent of registered provincial voters in each of the province’s 85 electoral districts to trigger a referendum, as was done to repeal the HST.

Larsen said a while ago, the group booked a booth at the Nanaimo Marine Festival July 26-28 in Maffeo Sutton Park and the cheque was cashed, but then last week the group was told that it couldn’t have the booth after all and the money was returned.

“We think that’s kind of odd and unfair,” he said. “We were always clear about what we were doing. We’re at a lot of events this summer to drum up awareness.”

Bill McGuire, commodore with the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society, said organizers try to stay away from politics and religion as well as anything that could be controversial at the festival and the group’s mandate does not fit with what the festival is all about.

“We don’t try to say no to anything, but also we’re putting on an event that’s family-oriented and that has no place in our event,” he said. “We just felt that that one didn’t fit the bill.”

The society made a mistake in allowing the application initially, McGuire added, and will look at how to prevent something like this from happening again.