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Two-Thirds of Canadians Support Legalizing Marijuana:

…BUT ONLY IF THEY DON’T SEE IT

This survey was conducted on behalf of La Presse
The full article is available on their website here.

[Ottawa – November 6, 2015] Support for decriminalizing marijuana is up insignificantly from last year, but our long-term tracking shows a clear shift in favour of loosening Canada’s marijuana laws over the last decade. Fully 71 per cent do not believe possession of small amounts of marijuana should be a crime, a dramatic change from 2000 when Canadians were evenly split on the issue. With three of the four federalist parties now calling for reforms to Canada’s marijuana laws, not to mention the wave of politicians who have openly acknowledged that they have tried pot in the past (including our incoming Prime Minister), it is not surprising that Canadians attitudes are moving towards a more progressives stance on marijuana.

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Most Canadians – particularly younger Canadians and those with a university education – reject the notion than marijuana is highly dangerous and the majority put the drug on par with alcohol or tobacco. Interestingly, Quebeckers are noticeably more likely to perceive marijuana as dangerous, even though they are just as supportive as other Canadians when it comes to liberalizing Canada’s marijuana laws.

We presented Canadians with a choice between four broad options on the future of marijuana – toughening the existing laws, maintaining the status quo, decriminalization, and legalization. By an overwhelming margin, Canadians say marijuana should be legalized, regulated, and taxed. Indeed, those who support legalization outnumber those who prefer a tougher stance by a staggering 10-to-1. What is most notable about this finding is how support for legalization transcends virtually every demographic barrier. Majorities of Canadians from all provinces, age groups, educational credentials, and socioeconomic backgrounds support the idea of legalization.

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The legalization of marijuana is a complex issue that brings forth a lot of challenging questions that Mr. Trudeau will have to grapple with in the coming years. Should individuals be allowed to use marijuana anywhere they choose or just in their own homes? Where and how should Canadians be allowed to purchase it? In this survey, we have attempted to address a few of these questions.

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While clear majorities of Canadians favour loosening marijuana laws (with legalization being the preferred option by a wide margin), they also hold something of an ‘As long as I don’t see it’ attitude (the classic NIMBY response). The vast majority of Canadians see no problem with individuals being allowed to use marijuana in their own homes, but they are staunchly opposed to seeing it used in public. Canadians are also evenly divided on whether they would be comfortable with businesses selling marijuana in their neighbourhood.

Finally, we asked Canadians where they would like to see the new tax revenue from marijuana sales spent. Most Canadians want to see a ‘bread before circuses’ approach where the extra revenues go to social programs. There is no appetite for adopting a system similar to some lotteries where the money is reserved for sports and cultural venues.

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Overall, results suggest that marijuana is a done issue. There is an emerging consensus that marijuana should be legalized and few Canadians agree with Stephen Harper’s stance that marijuana is ‘infinitely’ (or even significantly) more dangerous that some of the other sin goods that are already legal. Indeed, the widespread support for loosening Canada’s marijuana laws suggests that Mr. Harper may have hurt himself in the election with his hard-nosed stance. This trend echoes the same dramatic rise not only in Canada, but also in the United States.

In any case, it is clear that Justin Trudeau has a solid mandate to move quickly on what is essentially a no-brainer issue. If Justin Trudeau wants to get out of the gate smoking, this would be a great place to start.

Methodology:

This study was conducted using EKOS’ unique, hybrid online/telephone research panel, Probit. Our panel offers exhaustive coverage of the Canadian population (i.e., Internet, phone, cell phone), random recruitment (in other words, participants are recruited randomly, they do not opt themselves into our panel), and equal probability sampling. All respondents to our panel are recruited by telephone using random digit dialling and are confirmed by live interviewers. Unlike opt-in online panels, Probit supports margin of error estimates. We believe this to be the only probability-based online panel in Canada.

The field dates for this survey are October 27-November 2, 2015. In total, a random sample of 1,227 Canadian adults aged 18 and over responded to the survey (1,114 online, 113 by phone). The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/- 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Please note that the margin of error increases when the results are sub-divided (i.e., error margins for sub-groups such as region, sex, age, education). All the data have been statistically weighted by age, gender, region, and educational attainment to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to Census data.

Click here for the full report: Full Report (November 6, 2015)

2 comments to Two-Thirds of Canadians Support Legalizing Marijuana:

  • D. Higgins

    Loved getting the results for the marijuana survey. My 83 year old mother (who is a yoga practicing, book club participant, refugee support volunteer, hiking, great-grandma) said, when asked out of the blue her opinion of legalizing marijuana, “Oh, yes, Trudeau has to do that! Hell, I might use it myself when he does!” Let’s hope all levels of government move fast on accomplishing this election pledge.

  • Ray Fillion

    This issue has been looked at in the past and nothing was ever done ie legalize now maybe it will finally happen. The only question is when.

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