Canadians cool with Trudeau’s pot law but don’t think it will do what he hopes it will do

Two in three Canadians approve of the Trudeau government’s proposed pot legislation but just as many do not believe it will do what the government says it will do — namely, make it tougher for young people to get their hands on some marijuana.

A majority also do not believe the legislation will sideline organized crime and half of those surveyed believe legalizing recreational marijuana will increase the number of impaired drivers on the road.

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Those are the findings of a new poll published by the Angus Reid Institute on Thursday as thousands were set to demonstrate in Canada and elsewhere in annual “4/20” events in support of marijuana legalization.

Angus Reid went into the field on Monday, a few days after the Trudeau government released its proposed legislation on April 13 which would legalize recreational use of marijuana but which also provided for a new regime to crack down on drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs or both.

The legislation also left a raft of issues, including the sale and distribution of marijuana products, up to the provinces.

READ MORE: Debate growing over drivers high on marijuana

One thing the federal legislation does do is set a limit on the amount of pot an individual can possess. But only 45 per cent say that 30-gram possession limit in the bill is “about right” and the rest were more likely to say that limit is too high rather than too low.

Nonetheless, the poll is the first to show that, on the broad strokes, the Trudeau government appears to be in line with mainstream Canadian public opinion.

In its release Thursday, Angus Reid noted that in 1975, just 26 per cent of Canadians supported legalizing marijuana. In 2001, that support had grown to just 47 per cent. But when Angus Reid polled Canadians on the issue in 2016, it found 68 per cent supported legalization.

The Angus Reid Institute found varying levels of support for the Trudeau government\’s plan to legalize marijuana in a new poll.

The Angus Reid Institute, Apr. 17 to 19, 2017

Having had a few days to digest the Trudeau government’s plan to make good on its campaign promise to make marijuana legal, 63 per cent gave the legislation a thumbs up.

Angus Reid found relatively strong support for the government’s plan in every region except Quebec. In Quebec, the proposed pot plan is narrowly supported by 51 per cent and opposed by 49 per cent.

The proposed legislation would create severe penalties, including jail terms of up to 14 years, for those who sell pot to minors.

A cloud of smoke rises above the lawns of Parliament Hill during the annual 420 marijuana rally on April 20, 2016 in Ottawa.

Canadian Press/File

Nonetheless, Canadians do not believe the proposed new regime will keep marijuana out of the hands of minors. Two in three agreed with the pollster’s statement that the proposed law will “fail to prevent kids from using even more pot once it is legal.”

Angus Reid, of its own accord, conducted the online survey of 1,467 Canadians from Monday to Wednesday. Margins of error cannot be calculated for the type of survey Angus Reid conducted as survey respondents were not drawn from a truly random sample of the population.

The pollster said that, had it been a random sample of 1,467 Canadians, the margin of error would have been within 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.