The Sensible BC marijuana reform campaign has this electronic billboard in West Vancouver

Marijuana reform campaign refused billboards

Sensible BC gearing up for petition sign-up blitz this fall to force provincial referendum

Marijuana reform campaigners say they’ve been denied billboard advertising space with B.C.’s biggest outdoor ad firm in the key months leading up to their signature drive to force a provincial referendum.

Sensible BC director Dana Larsen said Pattison Outdoor has refused to sell the pot decriminalization campaign billboards in areas such as Surrey, Vancouver, Burnaby, Delta, Langley and the Tri-Cities.

“Surrey was going to be an important area for us because it’s densely populated with a lot of ridings, so we’re going to need a lot of signatures there,” Larsen said.

“We were looking at a provincial campaign in a lot of different areas.”

The initiative petition campaign is expected to start in mid-September, giving volunteers 90 days to sign up 10 per cent of voters in each riding. If they clear that hurdle, a province-wide referendum would be held in 2014 to decriminalize marijuana possession and implement the Sensible Policing Act blocking police enforcement.

No explanation for the refusal has been given, Larsen said, adding he offered to change the proposed wording or remove the marijuana leaf image.

Sensible BC has one electronic billboard with that design up in West Vancouver with a competing firm.

A representative at Pattison Outdoor could not be reached for comment.

Larsen said Pattison is the largest signage provider in many communities and virtually the only option in some areas.

He said they’ll look to other providers and methods of reaching people.

“This isn’t a make-or-break problem for us,” Larsen said. “It’s a small setback.”

Sensible BC is in the second wave of an automated phone dialing campaign to reach out to every B.C. household in search of volunteers.

More than 2,000 new volunteers signed up in the first round.

They, in turn, are working phone banks and hitting up summer festivals, farmers’ markets and other outdoor events to find more recruits.

“It’s by no means guaranteed,” Larsen said, noting only the Fight HST initiative ever reached the referendum stage. “It’s a very, very challenging campaign.”

Larsen said one obstacle is the stigma of pot reform, despite a high-profile group of supporters that include public health officers and former attorneys-general.

“People are afraid of being judged for supporting our issue,” he said. “People say ‘I really want to support you but I can’t put up a marijuana poster in my workplace’ or ‘I can’t support you in my storefront window.'”

But the campaign that got started on Larsen’s credit cards has also hit lucky breaks.

The biggest was last year’s $25-million lottery win for Terrace pot activist Bob Erb, who has pledged several hundred thousand dollars to match Sensible BC campaign donations.

Just Posted

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Structure fire destroys Surrey tire shop, closes section of Fraser Highway

RCMP have closed Fraser Highway down to traffic from 152 Street to 88 Avenue

Surrey RCMP search for missing 17-year-old girl

Mikayla Logan was last seen in Guildford on Tuesday, May 14

Surrey to begin ‘public engagement process’ on policing transition next week

First in a series of public events set for May 23 at Cloverdale rec centre

Construction launched for South Surrey high school

Education minister announces $6M for completion of land for new school in Sunnyside neighbourhood

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Multi-vehicle collision on highway in Chilliwack

Accident involves several vehicles, in the westbound lanes says Drive BC

Man dies after being hit by car in East Vancouver

The driver involved is cooperating with police

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Most Read