Almost half of Canadians want to delay pot legalization: poll

File / Global News

Canadians across the country aren’t sure provincial governments will be ready to legalize pot in time.

An Angus Reid poll indicates that, despite two-thirds support for legalization, more than half of Canadians across several provinces aren’t sure their governments will be prepared for the upcoming July 1, 2018, goal.

“I think it’s really interesting to note that we’ve got this timeline in place. July 1, 2018, is looming, and if you ask Canadians whether or not they’re confident about this, only 39 per cent, or four in ten, say that they are confident that their province will have a plan in place,” said Angus Reid research associate Dave Korzinski.

Six in ten residents of Quebec and Ontario share this opinion.

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In addition, almost half of all respondents believe that the deadline for legalization should be pushed back to ensure that governments are better prepared.

As part of the federal rollout plan, provinces were tasked with overseeing the licensing and distribution of the product. Several provinces have begun putting forth elements of their plans over the past few months, which range from government-controlled sales, private business distribution and dispensary-based models.

“There’s a lot of responsibility being put on the provinces in terms of training police forces and figuring out at what age they would like the residents to use marijuana, what the distribution mechanism should be, has left a lot of provinces – for lack of a better term – scrambling to meet these timelines,” Korzinski explained.

Some provincial leaders have gone so far as to ask the federal government for more time and resources to properly implement a distribution plan.

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“You’ve seen Brian Pallister in Manitoba and more recently Philippe Couillard in Quebec requesting that they get more time to get all of these provincial regulations in place and to get all their ducks in a row. And that might be resonating with residents of those provinces,” Korzinski said.

Korzinski notes that there may also be ideological factors at work here. Among those who oppose legalization, 78 per cent said they aren’t confident in their government’s ability to be ready.

However, Korzinski noted that feelings of readiness among Canadians varied slightly depending on whether their province had laid out a plan to handle cannabis distribution at the time they were surveyed.

Saskatchewan, for example, has provided the least amount of insight into its distribution plan, triggering uncertainty among its residents.

“The other outlier there is Saskatchewan where the government really hasn’t announced much of anything with respect to their provincial regulations and their method of sale. And they’re the highest across the country: 62 per cent of them say they don’t have confidence in their governments to be ready when Canada Day rolls around,” Korzinski stated.

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In addition to readiness, the poll revealed that Canadians largely prefer a dispensary-based distribution model for cannabis products rather than private businesses or government distribution.

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from November 14 – 20 among a representative randomized sample of 1510 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI. 

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