VANCOUVER - A B.C. marijuana activist has withdrawn his petition to decriminalize pot, saying he will spend the next 10 months gathering volunteers and support before submitting it again.

Elections BC approved a petition in September by Dana Larsen, who wants to use B.C.'s unique citizen's initiative legislation to force a debate on the issue or even a referendum.

The petition calls for changes to the Police Act to prohibit the use of provincial police resources to enforce simple possession-and-use laws for adults.

Elections BC formally issued the petition last Friday, and Larsen says his plan was always to use the current petition as a "test run" before actually gathering signatures after submitting it again in the fall of next year.

If he files again, Larsen will have 90 days to gather the signatures of 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the province's 85 ridings.

If he achieves that, a committee of the legislature could then choose to either send the matter to the legislature for a vote or call a provincewide, non-binding referendum.

An initiative petition has only received the required number of signatures once before in B.C. and that prompted a mail-in referendum over the harmonized sales tax, which was killed as a result.

While the results were not binding, the Liberal government had earlier promised it would scrap the tax if a majority of voters wanted it gone.

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