Do Canadians still support legalization? Survey says...

Canadian support for legalization has declined slightly since last summer, according to a recent online poll by Navigator Ltd. (Mark Blinch / Canadian Press files)

Canadian support for legalization has declined slightly since last summer, according to a recent online poll by Navigator Ltd. (Mark Blinch / Canadian Press files)

As cannabis legalization chugs forward through the Senate, the proportion of Canadians who support the idea has declined slightly.

That's the big takeaway from fresh polling by consultancy Navigator Ltd., which conducted an online survey of 1,200 respondents aged 19 and older between February 5 and February 19. (The self-selection bias inherent in that online methodology means the participants don't constitute a random sample of Canadians, so take them with a grain of weed.)

Forty-two per cent of Canadians are in favour of legalization, according to the poll, while 38 per cent are opposed. In June 2017, Navigator found support for cannabis legalization was at its highest — 47 per cent — with opposition at 35 per cent.

(For comparison, a telephone poll of 5,000 Canadians conducted between July and August 2017 by Oraclepoll Research found a higher level of support for legalization, with 57 per cent supporting and 35 per cent opposed.)

Support for legalization "plateaued for a little while around the summer or fall, and then it's been slowly decreasing," said Alex Shiff, a senior consultant with Navigator who focuses on cannabis issues.

Why might Canadians be a bit less supportive of legalization than they were last summer? Perhaps because they're coming face-to-face with the reality of legalization, said Shiff.

"Facing the prospect that, 'Oh, there are going to be cannabis stores on street corners, what's that going to look like for me, what's that going to look like for my community?'"

"There's definitely a bit of a NIMBY thought process on this issue, where folks, maybe they support legalization but they don't necessarily want a store on their block, in their neighbourhood," added Shiff.

This poll was also the first time Navigator asked Canadians about cannabis taxation, said Shiff. The federal government's proposal to apply an excise tax to cannabis sold for both recreational and medical purposes has left medical cannabis advocates indignant.

"What I was surprised by was that, while there was considerable support for an excise tax on recreational cannabis, there was a strong level of disagreement with an excise tax being applied to medical cannabis," said Shiff.

Specifically, said Shiff, 52 per cent of respondents opposed applying the excise tax to physician-approved cannabis for medical purposes, and 29 per cent expressed support. When asked about taxation on cannabis for recreational purposes, just 12 per cent were opposed versus 71 per cent in favour.

New on The Leaf

  • There's an app for that, too: Two free mobile apps take very different approaches to helping cannabis users document and share their experiences with various strains of marijuana.
  • Dear Herb's home-grow extravaganza: Our in-house cannabis advice scribbler has been overwhelmed (or overgrown, perhaps) with questions about the ins and outs of post-legalization home cannabis cultivation. This week's advice column covers seeds, household plant limits, growing in natural light only and sharing amongst friends.
  • Medical cannabis, the next generation: Will patented, cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals see a boost from legalization in Canada? These companies are betting on it.

Elsewhere on the Weed Wide Web

  • Throwing interprovincial shade: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister took to Twitter this morning to chastise Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne for calling private sector cannabis retail "reckless" (and promote his own government's private-sector retail plan in the process). "You know who else doesn't like our plan? Organized crime," tweeted Pallister. "Higher prices of Ontario’s government monopoly will keep black market business booming."
  • The price is right, we think: How do you measure the worth of the legal cannabis industry in the U.S. when wholesale prices are a mystery? Financial gurus are on the case, reports Chris Prentice for Reuters.
  • Smoking on the dock of The Bay: As far as San Francisco is concerned, cannabis consumption lounges are welcome — but that remains rare in jurisdictions where marijuana is legal, reports Paul Elias of the Associated Press. Will Canada follow San Francisco's lead?


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