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Two-Thirds of Canadians Support Decriminalization of Marijuana


[Ottawa – January 30, 2014] In our latest poll, we asked Canadians whether they feel that possession of marijuana should be crime. Results reveal that two out of three of Canadians now favour the decriminalization of marijuana, a rather significant shift from just over a decade ago. In 2000, Canadians were fairly evenly split on the issue, with a narrow plurality supporting decriminalization. With three of the four federalist parties now calling for reforms to Canada’s marijuana laws, not to mention the recent wave of politicians who have openly acknowledged that they have tried pot in the past, the public view is swinging decisively towards decriminalization.

Even Conservative supporters, despite the party’s relentless attacks on Justin Trudeau for his position on marijuana legalization, are increasingly calling for decriminalization. Half of Conservatives (51 per cent) say that possession of small amounts of marijuana should not be a crime, a figure that jumps to 76 per cent when Conservative supporters are excluded.

Regionally, decriminalization is widely supported in every province except Saskatchewan, although the small sample size here prevents us from drawing any meaningful conclusions. Even seniors are on board, although with somewhat less zeal that those under 25.

Now, an important caveat is needed here: we asked Canadians about their views on decriminalization (i.e., removing criminal and monetary penalties associated with possession). We did not ask Canadians whether they would rather see marijuana legalized and openly sold and taxed. Indeed, Canadians may simply prefer a non-enforcement policy similar to that in the Netherlands. What is clear, however, is that most Canadians feel the current approach isn’t working and politicians seem to be taking note – even the Conservative Party is hinting that it may loosen its stance.

A century ago, a famous campaign slogan promised “a chicken in every pot”. Today, it’s just “pot”.


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 January 22-27, 2014. In total, 1,501 Canadians aged 18 and over responded to the survey. Of these cases, 1,277 were collected online, while 224 were collected by computer assisted telephone interviews (CATI). The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/-2.5 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 (January 30, 2014)

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