Drug Use and Offending

Q3. What is the public attitude towards decriminalization of drugs?

One-in-three Canadians believe that possession of a small quantity of marijuana should not be a criminal offence.

Possession should result in a fine

In a poll conducted in March 2002 by Gallup, 37% of Canadian were in favour of decriminalizing possession of a small quantity of marijuana. Four-in-ten (40%) believed that possession should result in a fine, while 22% believed that possession should be a criminal offence. While the proportion of respondents who believed that possession should be a criminal offense decreased 13 percentage points since the first time the question was asked by Gallup in 1977, the proportion of respondents who are in favor of decriminalization has significantly increased by 14 percentage points from 1977 to 2002. The proportion of Canadians who agree that possession should result in a fine has decreased from 48% in 1999 to 40% in 2002.

Figure 1 : Public Support for Marijuana Possession 1977-2002

Figure 1 : Public Support for Marijuana Possession 1977-2002

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Source: The Gallup Poll, April 19, 2002, Volume No.62, No.22.

Gender differences in opinions toward decriminalization

Men were more likely than women to believe that possession should not be an offence (43% versus 31% respectively) while Canadians aged 50 to 64 years old were most favourable (44%) to decriminalizing possession of small quantities, followed by respondents aged 18-29 (41%), 30-39 (35%), 40-49 (35%) and 65+ (26%).

British Columbia respondents are most favourable towards decriminalization

Public opinion on whether possession should be an offence varies from one region to another. Four-in-ten (44%) British Columbia respondents favoured decriminalizing the possession of marijuana, followed by Quebec (41%), the Atlantic provinces (38%), Ontario (35%),and the Prairies (29%).

Source

The Gallup Poll, April 19, 2002, Volume No.62, No.22.

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