Half of Canadians Support the Legalization of Marijuana

Half of Canadians believe marijuana should be legalized but less than one-in-ten believe other drugs should be readily available, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,000 Canadian adults, more than a third of respondents (37%) believe Canada has a serious drug abuse problem which affects the whole country, while two-in-five (41%) think Canada’s drug abuse problem is confined to specific areas and people. Only 11 per cent of respondents state that Canada does not have a serious drug abuse problem.

Respondents in Atlantic Canada (49%) and British Columbia (46%) are more likely to say that Canada has a serious drug abuse problem that affects the entire country.


Four-in-five Canadians (81%) support the introduction of a National Anti-Drug Strategy, including a nationwide awareness campaign to discourage young Canadians from using drugs. Three-in-five respondents (64%) support ensuring mandatory minimum prison sentences and large fines for marijuana grow operators and drug dealers.

Earlier this month, the Senate of Canada passed a drug-sentencing bill that would automatically imprison people caught growing five or more marijuana plants. The previous version of the legislation was geared at punishing people caught growing at least 200 plants.

Two other policies continue to do poorly among Canadians. Only 35 per cent of respondents agree to eliminate “harm reduction” programs, such as supervised injection sites and needle-exchange programs, and 33 per cent support the decision to scrap the previous government’s marijuana decriminalization legislation.


Half of Canadians (50%) support the legalization of marijuana, while 44 per cent are opposed. Respondents in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (61%), British Columbia (54%) and Ontario (51%) are all in favour of legalizing marijuana, while the lowest level of support is seen in Alberta (45%).

Nine-in-ten Canadians disagree with legalizing other drugs, such as ecstasy, heroin, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, and methamphetamine or “crystal meth”. This month’s results are consistent with the opinions voiced by Canadians in surveys conducted in May 2008 and April 2010.


The views of Canadians on drugs have not gone through an overwhelming shift over the past three years. Half of respondents continue to support the legalization of marijuana, but this sentiment is clearly not extended towards so-called “hard drugs.” The national campaign to encourage kids to stay away from drugs gets an overwhelming level of support, and Canadians support punishing large scale drug dealers. However, the public is not satisfied with the decisions to both abandon the push towards decriminalization started by the Paul Martin government and ignore “harm reduction” as a strategy.

Our previous surveys on drugs in Canada can be found: May 2008 / April 2010

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From November 23 to November 24, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,000 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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