Montreal Gazette

The federal government’s plan to legalize marijuana has split the country, with most Quebecers opposed to the idea, a new survey suggests.

The CROP survey, conducted for Radio-Canada May 11-23, suggests that 54 per cent of the 2,536 respondents across Canada are in favour of legalizing marijuana. But in Quebec, 54 per cent of respondents were opposed to the idea, with one-third of respondents saying they are extremely opposed. Elsewhere in Canada, that extreme opposition drops to one respondent out of five.

Young Canadians are the most favourable to the legalization of marijuana, with two-thirds of respondents age 18-34 expressing support for the legislation. The biggest worry nationally over legalization was that accidents caused by those driving while impaired by the drug would increase, with 60 per cent of those surveyed expressing that concern.

Meanwhile, three-quarters of respondents outside Quebec agreed with Ottawa’s assertion that legalization would prevent organized crime from profiting from the sale of marijuana. However only 46 per cent of Quebecers supported that view.

CROP president Alain Giguère said the differences between Quebecers’ perception of legalization and that of the rest of the country could be explained by the fact legalization has already occurred in several U.S. states and English Canada follows events in that country more closely than Quebecers.

Giguère also noted that Quebecers have been bombarded over the past few months with media reports on the potential dangers of marijuana, particularly for young people.

A total of 1,017 Quebecers participated in the web survey.