Canadians support legalized pot but doubts linger: poll

Sixty-three percent of respondents told the Angus Reid Institute they support the legalization of marijuana in Canada. AFP Photo

OTTAWA: Polling released Thursday showed strong support in Canada for a government drive to legalize recreational use of marijuana, but many would like the proposed minimum age for consumption to be raised.

Sixty-three percent of respondents told the Angus Reid Institute they support legalization.

However, 58 percent said a touted minimum age of 18 years for use should be higher.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration unveiled legislation on April 13 to fully legalize pot by mid-2018.

The new rules would allow individuals to grow up to four plants at home for personal use, or to purchase up to 30 grams (one ounce) of dried cannabis at a time from a retailer.

Trafficking outside the new regime would continue to be illegal and punishable by up to 14 years in prison, as would selling cannabis to youths, driving under its influence, and importing or exporting pot.

During consultations, health professionals expressed concern about the potential impact of marijuana on developing brains under the age of 25.

But a government task force on pot concluded that the “current science is not definitive on a safe age for cannabis use.”

Since the aim in legalization is to stop the criminalization of users, the panel chose an age that would not force adults under 25 to turn to the illicit market. The age chosen — 18 years — is in line with the minimum age for alcohol consumption in Canada.

The government also said that the stated aim of the initiative is to reduce policing and prosecutions, and keep marijuana out of the hands of children.

But, according to the Angus Reid Institute poll, 66 percent doubt the new rules will stop children from toking. They also believe organized crime won’t be shut out of the marijuana market.

The survey of 1,467 Canadians was taken April 17-19 and is considered accurate within +/-2.5 percentage points. – AFP

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