A new Nanos Research poll paid for by the Globe and Mail shows overwhelming support for legalized cannabis in the country, the debate is now on how to do it.
The survey showed 68 of Canadians supported cannabis legalization, but were split on where it should be sold and what its impact will be on youth in the country.
Support was strongest on the west coast, where 75 per cent of British Columbians said they agreed with legalization. Even in the prairies, where support was weakest, 54.6 per cent of those polled were still in favour of the move.
Men and women weren’t that far apart on the issue — 69 per cent of men and 65 per cent of women want cannabis legal in Canada.
“I think with how little the Canadian public has been adequately consulted and had this issue explained to them, clearly they understand the fundamental truths,” said Cannabis Growers of Canada Executive Director Ian Dawkins.
Canadians were most split on the question of home growing, with 49 per cent in favour and 48 per cent opposed. While the Liberals haven’t mentioned any policy around home growing in their legalization program, a petition is currently being circulated online, sponsored by a party MP, to allow home growing, similar to Oregon.
Dawkins suspected that these divided views still exist amongst Canadians due to a lingering legacy of prohibition that growing cannabis is tied with crime – prejudices that, he said, will break down as time goes on.
“As people being to see cannabis more openly in their day-to-day lives I think they’re going to relax a little bit and realize that someone growing a plant in their closest is no different than my neighbour, who makes his own beer int the garage,” Dawkins said.
Despite favouring legalization, half of all Canadians believe it will cause more young people (under 21) to use cannabis. The view wasn’t attached to a negative implication however, and 57 per cent thought there was no connection with cannabis being a “gateway drug” that led users to harder substances.
When asked to pick where they thought cannabis should be sold, Canadians seem to want dedicated dispensaries over any other option, with pharmacies a close second-choice. Liquor stores were preferred as a third option, with convenience stores and grocery stores distant rankings on the list.
Dawkins said dispensaries ranking number one for Canadians is telling, at a time when the public is being bombarded with news of pharmacies and liquor stores wanting to enter the market.
“People want to control the lucrative sale of cannabis at the retail level with messaging of how dispensaries are not an acceptable solution, and yet here the public is still saying they believe that dispensaries have a valuable role to play,” Dawkins said. “Look at beer, look at wine, look at we’ve achieved by having common sense regulations. Why should cannabis be any different?”
Nanos randomly contacted 1,000 Canadians, 18 and older, through a hybrid of phone and online questions.