Poll says 1 in 4 Manitobans have bought pot since legalization or plan to do so

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Since cannabis was legalized in October, more than a quarter of Manitobans have bought, or plan to buy marijuana, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted by Probe Research and commissioned by the Winnipeg Free Press, found 11 per cent of respondents reported that they'd purchased from a licensed retailer. Five per cent said they'd bought from an unlicensed source and 15 per cent of respondents said they hadn't bought cannabis yet, but plan to.

The majority, 73 per cent of respondents, said they had no plans to purchase marijuana.

The poll took place between Nov. 27 and Dec. 6, and surveyed a random sampling of 1,105 adults living in Manitoba.

Cannabis advocate Steven Stairs said given the time frame — marijuana became legal on Oct. 17 — the number of people who have bought or plan to buy cannabis is fairly high.

Steven Stairs, a cannabis advocate, says a recent poll from Probe Research indicates big steps forward in a small time frame. (Marcy Markusa)

"We're [months] into legalization of cannabis and one quarter said they bought it, or plan to — that's great.

"These are big steps forward in such a small time frame," he said.

Stairs believes that number might increase, as time progresses and the market develops further.

"Right now, you have the legal cannabis market that is short-supplied and has limited varieties of product," he said, pointing out certain products, such as edibles, are not yet available.

Demographic breakdown included in poll

Among younger respondents — those 18 to 34 years old — 39 per cent said they had bought or planned to buy legal cannabis. Among Manitobans 55-plus, the figure drops to 17 per cent.

In terms of political leanings, only 17 per cent of provincial PC supporters said they are cannabis consumers, while 34 per cent of NDP supporters and 36 per cent of provincial Liberal supporters said they have bought or will buy cannabis. Among Green Party supporters, 32 per cent have purchase or are likely to purchase cannabis.

Majority polled said legalization has gone well

Close to three quarters of respondents said legalization of marijuana has gone well, so far. Fifty-five per cent said legalization has gone fairly well, and 16 per cent said it has gone very well.

Of those who said it went well, the top three reasons cited were that legalization was overdue/made sense, supply seemed safe and well-regulated, and that nothing bad has happened.

People who felt that legalization has not gone well cited their top three reasons as marijuana legalization being a bad idea in the first place, concern about people driving while high or impaired, or other reasons.

Given that the majority polled felt legalization has gone smoothly, if those numbers are indicative of feelings nationally, Stairs said "it looks great for Canada as a whole."

"It looks like our country is unified on the world stage regarding our choice. So when we face criticisms and scrutiny from other countries regarding our choice, I think Canada looks a lot better off when you see the majority supports [it.]"

Probe was in the field between Nov. 27 and Dec. 6 of this year.  A randomized sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.9%, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error is higher within each of the survey's population sub-groups.

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