University of Regina professor worried about outside influence on government cannabis survey

The provincial government has seen more than 32,000 people respond to their cannabis regulation survey since it was launched on Sept. 8. However, University of Regina education professor Marc Spooner is concerned about the validity of its findings.

Spooner’s main concern lies with the survey being open to anyone, not just residents of Saskatchewan.

“If the survey’s intent is to measure the attitude toward cannabis and cannabis regulation for the province of Saskatchewan, it has no validity at all because we don’t know who’s taking the survey,” Spooner said.

Spooner worries that special interest groups may be able to hijack the survey and skew the findings.

“So whether that’s NORML who’s pro-marijuana or a conservative group or some kind of pot temperance group who are quite against it. So we have no way of knowing who’s filling out the survey,” Spooner said.

READ MORE: Sask. government launches survey on recreational marijuana regulations

Ministry of Justice spokesman Drew Wilby said they are confident that Saskatchewan residents will take the survey honestly, but there are safeguards in place.

“When we do the analysis, there is some data cleaning that will go along with that. They’ll hopefully fix some of those errors that may have occurred and that stuff,” Wilby said.

Spooner suggested blocking IP addresses that are outside the province from accessing the survey’s webpage. Wilby countered that they didn’t want to block Saskatchewan residents, like students, who may currently be living out of province from taking the survey.

This survey is just one element that will guide the province in drafting its marijuana regulations.

“It’s crucial to hear through the survey what their opinions are,” Wilby said. “There are other consultations going on of course with law enforcement folks, with lawyers and such, as well as with business.”

The ministry is pleased that so many people have taken the survey. One of the last widespread government surveys revolved around privatizing liquor stores, and received 6,600 replies. At over 32,000 responses the marijuana survey raises more questions with Spooner.

“I’d be concerned with who’s taking the survey and to what end are they intentionally trying to distort the survey from one view point or another,” Spooner said.

The province’s cannabis survey concludes on October 6, 2017. Wilby said the ministry will be releasing the results once the data is analyzed.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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