6 in 10 Canadians support pot legalization, half support 21 as minimum age to buy: Ipsos poll

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Justin Trudeau avoids answering questions on decriminalization of marijuana
WATCH ABOVE: Justin Trudeau avoids answering questions on decriminalization of marijuana – Apr 12, 2017

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has announced its long-awaited legislation to make recreational pot legal and a new poll finds a majority of Canadians support Ottawa’s plan to legalize it.

A new Ipsos poll, conducted exclusively for Global News, found that 61 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they believe pot should be legalized for recreational use, with that number rising to 73 per cent among millennials (ages 18-34).

“[Canadians] have been on board with the [legalization] for a long time,” said Darrell Bricker CEO of Ipsos Affairs. “To be clear, what they are on board with is the idea that people should not be going to jail or have a criminal record because of the fact they are using pot personally.”
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WATCH: What to expect as pot legislation is tabled in the House of Commons

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Marijuana legislation introduced Thursday

The new polling also suggests that if pot becomes legal, one in four Canadians (26 per cent) say they’ll use marijuana recreationally, compared with just 15 per cent who say they currently use it.

The series of bills, which were tabled just after noon on Thursday is being led by Health Canada and the departments of Justice and Public Safety. The Liberals have said they are aiming to have the legislation in place by Canada Day 2018.

Under the proposed bills, adults over 18 could possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis and grow up to four plants per household. The bill also aims to create new criminal offences with maximum penalties of 14 years in jail for anyone who sells pot to young people.

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In addressing issues around impaired driving, the federal government has pledged to implement a roadside testing system “before legalization occurs” that would allow police to obtain a saliva sample “if they reasonably suspect that a driver has drugs in their body.”

WATCH: A major BC study of young adults who use marijuana reveals some startling statistics about their risky behavior behind the wheel. Grace Ke reports.

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Marijuana driving study

Canadians still support some restrictions around legally using pot like where it can be used and whether people should be allowed to grow it at home.

The new polling results found only 49 per cent of Canadians support allowing people to grow marijuana plants at home. Support for growing plants at home was strongest in western Canada with 63 per cent of B.C. residents, 58 per cent of Albertans, and 57 per cent of residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba approving of the idea.

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Fewer Ontario and Quebec residents support the idea with just with 47 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively.

And just two in 10 (19%) say they’re likely to grow plants in their home if it becomes legal, the strongest green thumbs being Albertans (31%) and people who identify as millennials (28%).

READ MORE: Why are people being arrested for pot if the Trudeau government is looking to legalize it?

When it comes to age restrictions around buying pot the polling data found nearly half of Canadians believe the minimum age should be set at 21, while fewer people support a lower age: 20 (5%), 19 (18%), 18 (23%), 17 (2%) or 16 (3%).

The government also announced Thursday that provinces and territories would be able to set their own licensing, distribution and retail sales rules around marijuana and as well as any changes to provincial traffic safety laws.

WATCH: How do Canadians feel about pot legislation?

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How do Canadians feel about pot legislation?
“[Canadians] don’t want to see it on every street, or regard it as a kind of everyday thing,” Bricker said. “They still see it as restricted substance, they still want to have it controlled. The older population still has trouble with this … this remains potentially a minefield.”
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READ MORE: Two decisions Parliament will have to make about pot-impaired driving

New polling suggests Canadians are most supportive of the idea of it being sold at licensed marijuana specialty stores (73%), while a majority also support (62%) its sale at stores owned and managed by the government.

Forty-nine per cent believe marijuana should be sold outlets currently licensed to sell alcohol and just 24 per cent say it should be sold at convenience stores.

“This government tends to like these big announcements where they don’t have the loose ends tied up,” Bricker said. “It’ll be interesting to see when we do the big announcement today, where it all goes. Because the potential for a lot of players being involved in this that have a lot of contradictory and conflicting points of view is very high.”

READ MORE: Smelly, fussy, humid: Why you may not want to grow your own legal pot

The Ipsos poll was conducted between April 10 and 11 2017 using a sample of 1,004 Canadians from Ipsos’s online panel interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.


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