New poll shows Cana­di­ans more guarded than be­fore about pot le­gal­iza­tion,


Long­time head shop owner Luke Reynolds sees re­cre­ational mar­i­juana in Canada even­tu­ally rolling out “like Tim Hor­tons and Star­bucks” on ev­ery cor­ner.

“It will be gov­ern­ment-run and I think they’re go­ing to crush all the lit­tle guys like us who started this move­ment in the first place,” said Reynolds, owner of PipeDreamz in Ajax, while sell­ing his va­por­iz­ers and pipes for pot smok­ers at Lift, Canada’s big­gest cannabis con­ven­tion, Satur­day in Toronto.

With le­gal­iza­tion of re­cre­ational weed in Canada slated for July 2018, there was a lot of un­cer­tainty in the air — among other dis­tinct aro­mas — at the mas­sive expo of all things herbal that ran through Sun­day at the Metro Toronto Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

Anew study re­leased at the con­ven­tion backs up some of the pot para­noia out there, with sup­port clearly slid­ing for le­gal­iza­tion of re­cre­ational mar­i­juana since Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau re­cently an­nounced the July 2018 launch date.

The lat­est Hill+Knowl­ton Strate­gies sur­vey shows ap­proval has dropped to 43 per cent from polling done this time last year, which found 60 per cent of Cana­di­ans sup­port pot sales.

Re­cent rec­om­men­da­tions put for­ward by the fed­eral Task Force on Cannabis Le­gal­iza­tion, cou­pled with the an­nounce­ment that re­cre­ational mar­i­juana will be le­gal some­time on or near July 1, 2018, “is mak­ing this whole is­sue real for peo­ple,” said Ivan Ross Vrana, se­nior di­rec­tor, Hill+Knowl­ton Strate­gies.

“Peo­ple were ex­cited at first. But to­day the flavour of pub­lic opin­ion has shifted,” he said, not­ing the pub­lic is “more guarded and un­easy” about the is­sue.

The re­port found 41 per cent of Cana­di­ans feel Ot­tawa is rush­ing le­gal­iza­tion, while 53 per cent said they feel the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is un- der­es­ti­mat­ing the over­all im­pact it will have on so­ci­ety.

H+K’s vice-pres­i­dent of pub­lic af­fairs Omar Khan, for­mer chief of staff to On­tario’s health min­is­ter Eric Hoskins, also told the con­ven­tion crowd that On­tar­i­ans “will not see co-lo­ca­tion of al­co­hol and cannabis” once it be­comes le­gal, even though the LCBO is very in­ter­ested in sell­ing it.

“The fed­eral task force strongly rec­om­mended against it from a pub­lic health per­spec­tive. Also the prov­inces won’t want to fur­ther nor­mal­ize the use of cannabis; sell­ing it next to bev­er­age al­co­hol can lead to nor­mal­iza­tion,” he said in an in­ter­view.

“You don’t see cig­a­rettes sold with al­co­hol ei­ther,” he said. Al­co­hol and to­bacco are both gov­ern­ment-reg­u­lated prod­ucts.

The poll says among those who sup­port a com­pletely gov­ern­men­trun sales net­work, 46 per cent pre­fer to see ded­i­cated mar­i­juana-only stores (which Reynolds of Pipe-Dreamz pre­dicts), while 41 per cent would like to see it op­er­ate out of a sep­a­rate en­trance and area in provin­cially-run booze stores and 18 per cent would like to see it sold along- side al­co­hol.

Mean­while among those who sup­port a mixed pub­lic-pri­vate sys­tem, 52 per cent favour ded­i­cated mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries and 43 per cent would like to see it in phar­ma­cies like Shop­pers Drug Mart.

Reynolds said he found the Lift expo had a de­cid­edly more cor­po­rate feel to it this year, with the em­pha­sis on the busi­ness and sup­ply side as le­gal­iza­tion nears.

“Too many suits, not as much fun,” he said.

He echoed the sen­ti­ments of many in attendance who were bummed to find the con­ven­tion’s “vape lounge,” which hosted a steady flow of peo­ple us­ing va­por­iz­ers, were not given free prod­uct sam­ples as was the case last year.

“We were hand­ing out sam­ples ear­lier to­day, then we got in trou­ble,” said a young wo­man dressed as a stew­ardess at a booth flog­ging Flyte-branded pens and carts that va­por­ize oil, along with Flyte snack gummy bears.

The con­ven­tion had nearly dou­ble the booths and ex­hibits this year, with attendance ex­pected to reach 15,000, up from 10,000 last year.


A sur­vey re­leased at the Lift Cannabis Expo shows that pub­lic sup­port for le­gal­iz­ing re­cre­ational use of pot has dropped from 60 per cent to 43.

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