Sixty-five per cent of Canadians over 18 support either pot legalization and taxation, or the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, according to the survey from Forum Research. Since December 2011, support for legalization has decreased from 40 per cent to 33 per cent, while support for decriminalization has increased from 26 per cent to 32 per cent. The poll surveyed 1,849 Canadians randomly.
According to Dr. Lorne Bozinoff, Forum Research president, "legalization is a smart policy for the Liberal Party to adopt as it plays into their natural strengths and against those of the government."
The poll comes after Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau publicly backed decriminalization last week.
“I think we have to recognize first and foremost that the war on drugs, as it exists right now, doesn’t work,” he said, according to The Guardian.
His stance stands opposed to the Harper government's tough-on-crime policies, reflected in the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which includes mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana possession.
That approach prompted a group of U.S. judges, police officers, and other law enforcement authorities to send a letter to the Conservative government warning of the potential "costly failures" of such legislation.
Fifteen per cent of Canadians believe the penalties around pot should be more harsh, the survey showed.
The pot debate has been back in the news of late in B.C. A study from the University of B.C. and Simon Fraser University estimated the value of B.C. marijuana purchases at around half a billion dollars each year, raising questions about potential tax revenues.
According to Forum, British Columbians are most in favour of decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, with residents of Ontario, Quebec and Alberta close behind.
Colorado and Washington State both voted to legalize marijuana possession earlier in November, signifying a shift in U.S. drug policy, at least at the state level. However, critics have pointed out the potential drawbacks of legalization, namely health issues and productivity declines.