An organizer with the Sensible BC petition to decriminalize marijuana claimed pot cures cancer to get signatures at the Port Coquitlam Terry Fox Run Sunday.

Run volunteers said they took down the Sensible BC booth after hearing the claims, and then heard the organizer shouting that they were wasting their time raising money to cure cancer because the cure already exists.

“For people to say that’s the cure is patently wrong, and that’s giving hope where there’s no proof that’s the cure,” said run organizer Dave Teixeira.

“This is so distasteful. I don’t know what they were trying to accomplish by doing that but it’s hurtful for their cause and distasteful for ours."

About 3,000 people ran in the Terry Fox Run in the Canadian hero's hometown Port Coquitlam Sunday, 33 years after his Marathon of Hope.

Sensible BC is trying to sign up enough people to force a referendum to get the provincial government to tell law enforcement not to ticket or charge anyone for marijuana possession.

Port Coquitlam organizer Christopher Skidmore says he thought the Terry Fox Run would be a good place to get some of the 4,000 signatures required in his riding.

“I ran the whole race screaming that marijuana cures cancer, because it does,” Skidmore told CTV News.

He said that most people dismissed him but about three people agreed.

The B.C Cancer Agency does not tell patients that marijuana is a cure. The agency could not provide someone to be interviewed on the subject.

The American Cancer Society says studies have long shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine. The society says that chemicals found in marijuana have been found in some studies to slow growth or cause death in cancer cells.

“However, these substances have not been tested in humans to find out if they can lower cancer risk. There is no available scientific evidence from controlled studies in humans that cannabinoids can cure or treat cancer,” the agency says on its website.

When asked if it was ethical to tell Terry Fox Run participants, some running for friends or relatives with cancer, that a cure already exists, Skidmore replied, “I think it’s unethical for the government to silence claims that (treatment) is happening here, all over the place.”

Elections BC rules prohibit making false claims about the substance of an official petition, but doesn't restrict any other speech.

When reached about the controversy, Sensible BC leader Dana Larsen noted that marijuana derivatives had been shown in studies to kill cancer cells, but he believed that describing marijuana as a "cure" goes too far.

“It’s a very broad statement,” he said.

Larsen said he would tell Skidmore that the goal is to sign people up, not to debate with them.