Although politicians are elected to lead, a new poll shows that British Columbians have little faith that politicians can design policies that effectively reduce criminal, health and social harms stemming from the illegal marijuana trade. The Angus Reid poll shows that just 32% of British Columbians trust municipal politicians to develop effective marijuana policy. Trust in federal and provincial politicians is even lower – at 28% (federal) and 27% (provincial).
Meanwhile, far more British Columbians say they distrust municipal (62%), provincial (69%), or federal (68%) politicians to design policies to effectively reduce harms stemming from the illegal marijuana trade.
The Angus Reid poll was commissioned by STVBC, a new coalition of academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts. Last month, STVBC released the first of a series of reports and polling results aimed at pressuring politicians to legally regulate marijuana sales under a public health framework.
Polling results released today show that British Columbians have much more trust in scientists and the police than politicians to design constructive policies to deal with harms related to the illegal marijuana trade. Sixty-eight percent of British Columbians trust scientists to design such policies and have similarly high trust in their local police forces (66%) and the RCMP (65%).
In fact, 55% of those polled who voted Conservative in the last federal election say they distrust the ability of federal politicians to design effective policies. In addition, a significant majority of British Columbians stated they are dissatisfied with the way politicians—at the federal (78%), provincial (78%) and municipal (73%) levels—are responding to the problems stemming from the illegal marijuana industry in British Columbia.
British Columbians also want their politicians to open a dialogue around reducing the harms of marijuana prohibition. Fifty-six percent of British Columbians polled said they would have a more favourable opinion of a politician who promised to have experts and interested citizens design and evaluate a new marijuana strategy for British Columbia aimed at reducing harms of marijuana prohibition, and 29% said it would make no difference. Only 6% said this promise would lead to a less favourable opinion.
Angus Reid polling results released last month showed a mere 12% of British Columbians support keeping current marijuana laws in place and 77% of British Columbians disagreed that marijuana possession should be a criminal offense.
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