04/18/2013 07:07 EDT | Updated 06/18/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. voters support research on legalizing pot, says poll

Almost three-quarters of British Columbians would support further research into the taxation and regulation of marijuana, according to a new poll released by Angus Reid today.

The poll, which was commissioned by the marijauna legalization group Stop the Violence BC, also found that 44 per cent of British Columbians would like leaders in the provincial election better if they supported such a research trial.

A third of those polled said the leaders' opinion on marijuana legalization makes no different to them.

Mario Canseco, vice president of Angus Reid Public Opinion, says the results show that British Columbians are ready and willing to try new options when it comes to marijuana laws.

“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,” he said in a written statement.

“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.”

The poll also split the responses across four general regions. The lowest level of support for a research trial into the legalization of marijuana came from Metro Vancouver (69 per cent), and the highest levels of support were found on Vancouver Island (82 per cent) and in the northern Interior (84 per cent).

About 42 per cent of those polled in the southern Interior said their opinion of a party would improve if it announced its support for a study to evaluate legalizing and taxing cannabis — the same proportion as in Metro Vancouver — and of those polled from Vancouver Island, 52 per cent said their opinion would improve.

Stop the Violence B.C. says it has issued a questionnaire to B.C.’s four major political parties, asking whether they would support a research trial of cannabis regulation.


Poll question

Preamble. Many U.S. states are reforming their marijuana laws including Washington state, which has legalized the adult use of marijuana. British Columbia has experienced major unintended consequences resulting from marijuana prohibition including the proliferation of illegal marijuana grow ops and related organized crime concerns.

Researchers in B.C. are interested to conduct a research trial to assess if a strictly regulated (i.e. legal) system for adult marijuana purchases could cut profits to organized crime, raise tax revenue and better protect young people from the free availability of marijuana that exists under prohibition. The study would be ethically and federally approved, involve a pilot site in one community, require key stakeholder support and be halted if unanticipated harms emerged.

Question 1. Do you support or oppose a B.C. research trial conducted by local experts and health scientists aiming to evaluate whether the taxation (i.e., legalization) and strict regulation of adult marijuana use could reduce profits to organized crime, raise tax revenue and better protect young people from the availability of marijuana that exists under prohibition ?

The online poll, commissioned by Stop the Violence BC, was conducted online on April 8 and 9 using a randomized representative sample of 807 British Columbian adults .