The majority of Canadians want marijuana legalization delayed for up to one year to give federal and provincial governments more time to figure out how to deal with the societal implications, according to a new poll.
After the Cannabis Act passed its final vote in parliament last week, Justin Trudeau announced that marijuana will become legal on Oct. 17, giving provinces and territories just under four months to get ready. But 55 per cent of Canadians want legalization delayed, and 69 per cent are worried that the black market will continue to thrive because legal cannabis will cost more, according to a new Dart Insight poll conducted earlier this month.
In fact, six out of 10 Canadians think the Cannabis Act “is just a big political move to get votes and nothing else.” This sentiment is most common in Alberta (68 per cent) and Quebec (64 per cent), while 51 per cent of people in B.C. disagree. This view is also more likely to be held by men (62 per cent) than women (55 per cent), but even 58 per cent of young Canadians, aged 18-34, agree that the Liberals legalized marijuana for political gain.
“We’ve got a majority of people in this country, about half the population, that is deeply concerned that marijuana is going to roll out and key sections of society are not prepared to deal with it,” said John Wright, CEO of Dart Insight. “The motive is purely political, but the impact at the local level is very real…. If it comes off the rails, the Liberals may pay a price for it in the next election.”
A majority of Canadians (55 per cent) and 61 per cent of people over 55 think that their province is not ready to deal with stoned drivers. More than 60 per cent of people in Quebec and Alberta do not think their government has an effective plan in place, while people are more likely to think their province is prepared in Ontario (52 per cent).
“The issue with driving under the influence is, how do you detect it? Especially when there are edibles on the market. How do you measure it? How do you detect it? How do you identify who is under the influence and by how much?” Wright said. “We have a lot of science on alcohol but not on (cannabis).”
The country is split on how legalization will affect minors. Just over half (51 per cent) of those surveyed think underaged kids are more likely to get addicted to marijuana than cigarettes. Two thirds of Quebecers (64 per cent) are concerned about this, while the majority of people in B.C. (57 per cent), and Alberta and Atlantic Canada (56 per cent) disagree. Most Canadians (73 per cent) want joints to be treated like cigarettes, including how they are packaged.
In another attempt to protect children, the poll found that 67 per cent of Canadians think adults with children should be banned from smoking marijuana at home. Women (70 per cent) were more likely to hold this view than men (63 per cent).
“The federal government has been on this path for the last couple of years, but the rubber doesn’t hit the road at the federal level, it does so at the provincial level. That’s where ground level distribution, intoxication, resourcing issues lie,” Wright said. “I think these are legitimate concerns.”
The online survey was conducted from June 8 to 13 and polled a representative sample of 2,560 members of the Maru/Blue Online panel. The results are considered accurate to within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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