Six-in-ten Canadians support marijuana legalization, but say it’s not a top justice priority
As attention is focused on the return of marijuana legalization activist Marc Emery to Canada, recent survey results show the majority of people in this country support his cause. They do not, however, view legalizing pot as a top justice priority.
An Angus Reid Global (ARG) survey of 1510 Canadian adults shows 59 per cent say they think marijuana should be legalized, while 41 per cent say it should remain illegal. These findings are not significantly changed from an earlier ARG poll conducted in 2012.
However, while the most recent survey findings indicate majority backing for pot legalization, they also show that Canadians do not see the need to change existing laws as the issue the federal government should focus its attention on first.
Support for Legalization:
Overall, three-in-five (59%) Canadians say the use of marijuana should be legalized in this country. This support is strongest in BC (70%), Atlantic Canada (68%) and Manitoba/Saskatchewan (63%). It is lowest in Alberta and Quebec (53%).
Nationally, men are slightly more supportive of legalization than women (62% versus 56%). Older Canadians are only slightly less supportive than younger respondents (see tables at the end of this release).
Voting patterns do affect opinion on this issue. Respondents who said they voted for the Conservative Party of Canada in the last federal election were significantly less likely than those who voted for the Liberal or New Democratic parties to support legalization (43% versus 70% and 68% respectively).
Priority for Legalization:
While the survey results do suggest broad support for legalization of marijuana, the issue is not top of mind on the spectrum of crime/safety/justice issues.
When asked which crime/safety/justice issues the federal government should consider a top priority, respondents chose “tougher penalties for those found guilty of serious crimes” (63%) as first or second priority four-to-one over “legalizing the possession and use of marijuana” (15%).
Other justice issues deemed more pressing by respondents than marijuana legalization included cracking down on white collar crime (38%), addressing community crime (34%), addressing terrorism and security (28%), and increasing the transparency of the RCMP (16%).