A Canadian marijuana legalization poll taken this week by Forum Research found that 59 percent support the new Liberal government’s stance on legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis for adult use, closely mirroring a recent Gallup poll showing 58 percent support for legalization in the United States.
However, there are some strong differences in Canadian and American opinions on how marijuana should be legalized.
One key difference is that while both North American countries support legalization at about the same rate, US legalization is aimed at all adults age 21 and older, but the Canadian legalization question is aimed at all adults 18 and older.
In the United States, only people age 65 and older still oppose legalization, with just 35 percent in support. By contrast, Canadian seniors age 65 and older approve of legalization by a 50 percent to 40 percent margin. There is no age demographic in Canada that still approves of prohibition.
In fact, Canadian citizens in all provincial regions of the country support legalization, as do citizens belonging to every political party except the Conservative Party that was just swept out of leadership as the Liberal Party took majority control of Parliament.
The most interesting data from the poll is the question that asked Canadians how they would like to see marijuana taxed and regulated. The majority, 57 percent, preferred a system where the Canadian government only licenses large corporate growers, compared to 33 percent who preferred some other kind of system.
Such a system was proposed last week to voters in the US state of Ohio. In that state’s Issue 3, which was defeated with just 36 percent support, the state constitution would have designated just ten pre-owned plots of land for commercial growing, where a handful of large corporations would supply marijuana to over 1,000 independent retail marijuana outlets.
The Canadians who supported large corporate grows are dominated by those who’d prefer an even tighter system than what Ohio proposed. While 12 percent of all respondents supported “Licensing corporate growers only, then selling and taxing it through retail outlets” similar to Ohio’s plan, 45 percent supported “Licensing corporate growers only, then selling and taxing it through government agencies”, more like a US state-run liquor store model.
Only 16 percent of Canadians supported “Allowing private citizens to grow and sell their own product, and self-report their taxes” and another 17 percent chose “something else” or “none of these” three options.
Almost one-in-five Canadians, or 18 percent, admitted to using cannabis in the past year, including over a third of those aged 18-to-34, or 34 percent. One quarter of adults in the Atlantic provinces and British Columbia admit to annual consumption, as do over a fifth of Liberals (22 percent) and over a third of Greens (35 percent). Another 11 percent of Canadians who do not use cannabis say they are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to try it once it is legal, meaning three-out-of-ten Canadian adults would be likely cannabis consumers if the prohibition were ended.