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Only 9% of Canadians who have never used marijuana are “likely” to try it for the first time if it becomes legal.

Vancouver, BC – Most Canadians are in favour of marijuana becoming legal, but there is no consensus on the best venue to allow the substance to be sold to the public, a new Canada-wide Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 76% of Canadians say they are familiar with discussions related to marijuana legalization. Three-in-five (62%, down three points since an Insights West survey conducted a year ago) support legalization, while 31% (+1) are opposed.

Regular and casual marijuana users are decidedly in favour of legalization (94% and 93% respectively), while support is lower among “one-time” users (70%) and Canadians who have never used marijuana (49%).


A question with various policy options finds that 37% of Canadians would legalize marijuana, while 32% would keep it available “for medicinal purposes only”, and 18% would decriminalize it. Only 9% of Canadians think marijuana should always be illegal—including 20% of Conservative Party voters in the 2015 federal election.

Among Canadians who have never tried marijuana, only 9% say they would be “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to try cannabis (in any form) if it becomes legal, while 88% are “not too likely” or “not likely at all” to partake.

“The data suggests that Canadians who have not tried marijuana will not suddenly become interested in it if is legalized,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “We saw a similar situation in Washington State, where only one-in-twenty adults tried marijuana for the first time after Initiative 502 came into law.”

Most of Canada’s regular and casual marijuana users claim to get the substance “from a friend” (51%), while 14% rely on a dispensary—including 20% of those aged 18-to-34—and 4% grow it themselves.

More than half of these regular and casual marijuana users (57%) say they are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to abandon the current way they get marijuana and purchase it at a licensed store.

When asked about the benefits of marijuana legalization, more than seven-in-ten Canadians think taxing the adult use of cannabis will generate revenues that can be used to benefit all residents (75%) and will allow police to focus on other things, instead of chasing marijuana producers and traffickers (71%).

Still, 60% of Canadians believe there is no guarantee that the revenues from marijuana legalization will benefit taxpayers, 58% believe it will lead to more cases of impaired driving, and 47% think it will make it more difficult to teach children to stay away from drugs (including 53% of Canadians with a child younger than 19 living at home).

Canadians are divided on the best possible way to legally sell marijuana, with more than a third (36%) favouring stand-alone facilities for the sole purpose of selling marijuana and marijuana-related products, 29% preferring to sell cannabis in drugstores and pharmacies, and 16% choosing liquor stores or where other alcoholic beverages are sold.

Few Canadians who have made a purchase at a liquor store over the past month are in favour of having marijuana sales in the same venue (18%), with most preferring stand-alone stores (39%) or drugstores and pharmacies (28%).

Three-in-five Canadians (62%) think Canadian companies should be able to administer “drug tests” to any employee if marijuana becomes legal, including 70% of Canadians aged 55 and over and 71% of Conservative voters. Support is higher (84%) for allowing law enforcement officers to arrest drivers suspected of being impaired by marijuana and administer a blood test.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

Most of our surveys are conducted through our Your Insights panel. The Your Insights panel is comprised of 30,000 Canadians who share their opinions on a variety of political, economic, social and other issues while earning the opportunity to get paid and win great prizes. If you’re interested in joining, please register at

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from September 30 to October 4, 2016, among a representative sample of 1,033 Canadian adults. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West


Photograph: Bob Doran