New poll shows 73% support research trial to evaluate cannabis regulation

A new Angus Reid poll shows that British Columbians overwhelmingly support the province undertaking a pilot study to evaluate the taxation and regulation of adult cannabis use.

The survey, conducted between April 8 and 9, found that 73 per cent of British Columbians support a B.C. research trial conducted by local experts and health scientists to evaluate whether the taxation and strict regulation of adult marijuana use could reduce profits to organized crime and better prevent youth access to the drug.

Furthermore, 44 per cent of British Columbians say their perception of a provincial political party would improve if they supported a trial of this nature, compared to 33 per cent who say their opinion would be unchanged and just 12 per cent who said their opinion would worsen.

“These results clearly indicate British Columbians, regardless of their political affiliation, would welcome researching a new approach to marijuana policy involving the taxation and regulation of adult use,” said Mario Canseco, Vice President, Angus Reid Public Opinion. “Consistently our polling results are showing the public is demanding a new approach and turning away from strategies like mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana offenses.”

Stop the Violence BC (STVBC) has issued an Election 2013 questionnaire to B.C.’s four major political parties in advance of the May 14th election asking whether they would support a research trial of cannabis regulation.

To download a copy of the poll results, click here. For information about the poll or proposed research study, click here.

Poll: How would you allocate funds derived from cannabis tax revenue.

Downloads: Report, Polling Data, News Release

A previously unreleased Angus Reid poll asked British Columbians how they would allocate funds under a provincial system taxing and regulating the adult use of cannabis.

  •  31% of British Columbians believe the most effective way to allocate funds derived from cannabis tax revenue would be toward drug prevention and addiction treatment
  •  Another 31% would allocate cannabis tax revenue to health care
  • 12% would allocate funds to drug law enforcement

The Angus Reid poll was commissioned by Stop the Violence BC (STVBC), a coalition of academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts concerned about the links between cannabis prohibition in B.C. and the growth of organized crime and related violence in the province. Since launching a year ago, STVBC has received high-profile endorsements from across the law enforcement, public health and political sectors, including the Health Officers Council of B.C., four former mayors of Vancouver and four former B.C. attorneys general.

To download a copy of these polling results, please click here.


Poll: British Columbians support regulation, ready for change

This poll illustrates British Columbians overwhelming support for moving away from cannabis prohibition toward a system of regulation and taxation, and that lawmakers continue to lag far behind public opinion on revamping cannabis laws in B.C.

Click here for the raw data or click here for the graphs.

The survey, conducted between October 22 and 24, found that 75% of B.C. respondents support the taxation and regulation of cannabis over chasing and arresting cannabis producers and sellers, a jump of six percentage points from just one year ago.

“These results reveal a quite remarkable and growing dissatisfaction among British Columbians with the status quo and an eagerness for policymakers to pursue an entirely new approach to cannabis policy,” said Mario Canseco, Vice President, Angus Reid Public Opinion. “These beliefs cut across political, social and regional lines. I can’t think of any other issue where the laws on the books are inconsistent with the wishes of three-quarters of British Columbians.”

The poll results come a year after a similar Angus Reid survey, and demonstrate increasing public opinion that cannabis prohibition in B.C. has been ineffective and caused significant social harms and public safety issues, such as increased organized crime, gang violence and illegal marijuana grow ops.

Key Angus Reid poll data:

  • Only 14% of British Columbians believe possession of a marijuana cigarette should lead to a criminal record, down from 20% one year ago
  • 75% support the taxation and regulation of cannabis over chasing and arresting cannabis producers and sellers, an increase of six percentage points from 2011
  • 74% would be comfortable living in a society where adult cannabis consumption was taxed and legally regulated under a public health framework, an increase of four percentage points from last year
  • At 62%, fewer BC residents support decriminalizing marijuana use than the proportion that support outright taxation and regulation

The poll surveyed 799 respondents in B.C. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

“From a scientific and public safety, making cannabis illegal has clearly been an expensive and harmful failure,” said Dr. Evan Wood, founder of Stop the Violence BC and Canada Research Chair in Inner City Medicine at UBC. “With 75% of British Columbians supporting change, and the status quo contributing to increasing harms in BC communities, it is absolutely time for politicians to catch up with the public.”

Poll: Most British Columbians disagree that cannabis is more harmful than alcohol

Accompanying the report, Stop the Violence BC released polling data from Angus Reid that demonstrates that the majority of British Columbians:

•    disagree that regular marijuana use is more harmful than regular alcohol use (59%)
•    disagree with the statement that marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug (54%)
•    do not believe that marijuana is a “gateway” drug that can lead to the use of more dangerous drugs like heroin (51%)

[quote style=”boxed”]It is interesting to see that so many British Columbians understand that alcohol is in many ways more dangerous than marijuana, but it is clear that many people still hold inaccurate assumptions when it comes to invalid arguments such as the ‘gateway’ theory,” said Dr. Paul Hasselback, amedical health officer from Vancouver Island. “The Health Officer’s Council and other experts are not saying that marijuana should be legalized and taxed because it is safe. On the contrary, we should be using public health approaches to regulate its use rather than turning over the market to violent organized crime groups whose only motive is profit.[/quote]

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Poll: Results reflect political inaction, voter skepticism

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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Poll: British Columbians link gang violence to illegal cannabis market

Recent polling data released by Stop the Violence BC overwhelmingly demonstrates that lawmakers lag far behind public opinion when it comes to revamping marijuana laws in BC.

To summarize:

  • A mere 12% of British Columbians support keeping current marijuana laws in place
  • 81% of British Columbians are concerned about increasing gang violence in BC
  • 87% of British Columbians attribute gang violence to drug trafficking groups fighting over profits from the illegal marijuana trade
  • 69% state that arresting marijuana producers and sellers is ineffective, and that BC would be better off taxing and regulating the use of marijuana
  • More than 75% reject the notion that possession of marijuana should lead to a criminal record
  • Only 39% of British Columbians support instituting mandatory minimum prison sentences for marijuana-trade related crime, including possession of six or more marijuana plants.

[quote style=”boxed”]“These results reveal that British Columbians are clearly dissatisfied with the status quo and recognize the unintended harmful consequences of marijuana prohibition in terms of promoting organized crime and violence,” said Mario Canseco, Vice President, Angus Reid Public Opinion. “The majority of British Columbians are ready for new regulations related to marijuana use and possession, and reject the notion that tough-on-crime measures will be effective.”[/quote]

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