Most Canadians firmly in favour of decriminalizing marijuana: poll

03 Jul

Should be a no-brainer. Legalize it and TAX THE HELL OUT OF IT. In this day and age, we need to open as many revenue streams as we possibly can. Think about it, tourism would increase, gang crime would cease to exist, you wouldn’t need to have these “Police Drug Units” anymore, jails wouldn’t be populated with non-violent recreational users, etc.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

OTTAWA — Two-thirds of Canadians think the law should be changed so that people caught with small amounts of marijuana no longer face criminal penalties or fines, a new poll has found.

The nationwide survey for Postmedia News and Global TV, which examined the state of Canadian values, revealed that the public is distinctly offside with the Harper government on the issue.

Earlier this spring, Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended a summit of leaders from the Americas, where some called for a major review of the so-called “war on drugs,” and perhaps even the decriminalization of some drug use. Also this year, Liberals at a policy conference passed a resolution endorsing the legalization of marijuana.

That came after similar calls last year from a Global Commission on Drug Policy, which numbers former presidents of Colombia and Mexico, former United States secretary of state George Schultz and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan among its members. That group also urged nations to consider “experimentation” with “legal regulation of drugs” such as marijuana “to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.”

At the Summit of the Americas in April, Harper acknowledged that the international campaign to stem the drug trade isn’t working, but he flatly rejected decriminalization as one potential solution.

However, the June 18-25 survey by Ipsos Reid found that Canadians are much more willing to entertain the idea.

It found that 66 per cent of people believe that “the possession of marijuana in small amounts” should be “decriminalized so that it no longer carries a penalty or fine.” Another 34 per cent opposed the idea.

Support for decriminalization is strongest in Atlantic Canada (72 per cent) followed by British Columbia, Saskatchewan/Manitoba and Ontario — in all three regions, support for decriminalization runs at 69 per cent.

Opposition to decriminalization is strongest in Alberta, where 42 per cent of people don’t like the idea.

A rally to legalize marijuana took place in Montreal on May 5th, 2012.

Ipsos Reid president Darrell Bricker said in an interview that the poll results are part of a trend in recent years which has seen support for decriminalization rising.

Ipsos Reid has conducted similar polls on the issue over the past 25 years, and the data reveal that support is considerably higher now than it was in the past. In 1987, just 39 per cent supported decriminalization, rising to 55 per cent in 2003.

“It’s all about tolerance,” he said. “There’s a general trend in Canadian values and it’s really about, ‘Live and let live. Don’t tell me how to live my life. If you’re different from me, that’s OK. It’s my job to learn how to tolerate that.’”

Moreover, he said the country has had “more experience” with marijuana.

“It’s been a long time since Reefer Madness was a movie,” he said of the 1936 cult film that warned of the dangers of marijuana use.

“We’re a changing society. The culture is evolving.”

The poll found that support for decriminalization is strongest among upper-income earners. Three-quarters of those earning more than $100,000 a year think it should be decriminalized.

Fifty-eight per cent of those living in households with children supported decriminalization, while the figure rose to 67 per cent for those in households without kids.

At the Summit of the Americas, the leaders of Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico and Costa Rica spoke out in favour of exploring new approaches to the drug trade.

They noted that drug cartels have grown more powerful as violence spreads throughout the region — claiming more than 50,000 lives in Mexico alone — and that drug use has only increased in rich nations such as Canada and the United States.

By the end of the summit, leaders agreed to step up the fight against the drug trade, but there was no consensus on the merits of decriminalization. Canada and the U.S. strongly opposed that option.

Harper said that while the “current approach is not working” and that countries must continue to fight transnational criminal networks, it isn’t clear what should be done.

He spoke of how troubled he is by the continued “penetration” of the drug trade throughout Canadian society, in both urban and rural areas.

But he cautioned against “simple answers” such as decriminalization.

“Let me remind you of why these drugs are illegal. They are illegal because they quickly and totally — with many of the drugs — destroy people’s lives and people are willing to make lots of money out of selling those products to people and destroying their lives.

“And no amount of law — whether it’s having the approach in the Muslim world to execution, all the way to full legalization, nothing is going to prevent the reality that this is a trade, people attempting to make rich by destroying people’s lives. It’s that simple.”

For its poll, Ipsos Reid surveyed 1,009 Canadians through its online panel. It has a national margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. The margin of error is higher in the smaller provincial samples.

via Most Canadians firmly in favour of decriminalizing marijuana: poll | News | National Post.

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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Canada


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