Vote Compass: Should only government-run stores sell weed?

A Vote Compass survey finds those difference don't necessarily break down along party lines.

Issue doesn't always line up with party preference

Ontario Voters are split over whether they want legal cannabis sold in government run or private stores. (CBC)

Ontario voters are split over where they think cannabis should be sold when it is legalized later this summer.

CBC's Vote Compass survey asked respondents whether they thought only government-run stores should be able to sell marijuana.

The results showed that 27 per cent strongly agreed with that statement, while 24 per cent strongly disagreed. A further 18 per cent only somewhat agreed with government-only stores, while 19 per cent somewhat disagreed. Just 12 per cent were neutral on the idea.

Should only government-run stores be able to sell legal marijuana? 27% strongly agree. 24% strongly disagree. (Vox Pop Labs)

The Ontario Liberals plan to open 40 government-run Ontario Cannabis Stores this year, with plans for 150 standalone stores by 2020.

Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford says he's open to a free market approach, with more independent stores, but says he will first consult with his caucus.

York University professor Steven Hoffman has studied health policies around legalized marijuana, and says he's not surprised by the difference of opinion on the idea.

"I think a lot of it has to do with what people think of government's role in society as well as the extent to which they think they'll be able to access and purchase cannabis."

He says what surprises him about the Vote Compass data "is that the difference of opinion did not differ according to party affiliation."

In fact, the survey results show there are plenty of PC party supporters who back the Liberal party's policy of government-run stores, and a number of Liberal supporters who are in favour of the PC's more open approach.

A breakdown of party-affiliation shows supporters and detractors are spread across the political spectrum. (Vox Pop Labs)
Of respondents who said they planned to vote Liberal, 36 per cent said the strongly agreed with their party's position. About a quarter of respondents who said they planned to vote for the PC's, NDP or Green party also strongly supported government-run stores.

PC supporters and Green Party supporters were most likely to strongly disagree with a government monopololy, at 32 per cent and 28 per cent respectively. About 21 per cent of NDP supporters disagreed with just having sales at Ontario Cannabis Stores, as did 13 per cent of Liberal supporters.

Hoffman thinks the difference of opinion may have to do with where voters live and how much access they'll have to government stores.

"I would suspect that people who live in urban areas… might be open to government-run stores because while there might be fewer of them, they will be some in urban areas, while rural users might prefer independent stores, thinking it might be more widely available."

The Vote Compass survey also broke the numbers down by age demographic.

A breakdown of Vote Compass results by age. (Vox Pop Labs)
Overall, support for government-run stores was somewhat stronger among voters age 55 and over, while more younger voters supported more independent stores, but there was no overarching consensus.

"People might think that young people only want one thing, and older people want something else," Hoffman says. "That isn't what this data shows."

The survey findings are based on 64,916 respondents who participated in Vote Compass from May 8 to May 22nd.

The data has been weighed by gender, age, education and country of birth in order to approximate a representative sample of the Ontario population.