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Poll says Ontarians are high on government control of marijuana retailing

Fifty-one per cent of those surveyed back Premier Kathleen Wynne’s plan to have cannabis sold solely through standalone LCBO-operated stores and a website.

A recent poll shows support for Ontario's plan to sell recreational marijuana through government regulated stores. Asked specifically where recreational marijuana should be sold it is legalized next July 1, a quarter — 24 per cent — said the “Cannabis Control Board of Ontario,” 10 per cent said existing LCBO liquor stores.

Marina Riker / AP

A recent poll shows support for Ontario's plan to sell recreational marijuana through government regulated stores. Asked specifically where recreational marijuana should be sold it is legalized next July 1, a quarter — 24 per cent — said the “Cannabis Control Board of Ontario,” 10 per cent said existing LCBO liquor stores.

Ontarians appear to be high on the sale of recreational marijuana being restricted to a provincial government monopoly, a new poll suggests.

Campaign Research found 51 per cent of those surveyed back Premier Kathleen Wynne’s new plan to have cannabis sold solely through standalone LCBO-operated stores and a website.

“Media and the punditocracy … are suggesting that it’s inefficient and it’s bureaucratic and the antithesis of what most people wanted when, in actuality, the government is doing exactly what Ontarians want,” said Eli Yufest, CEO of Campaign Research.

“The government appears to be on the right side of the issue,” Yufest said Thursday.

About a third – 35 per cent – of those polled oppose the idea and 14 per cent had no opinion.

The online poll of a panel of 1,133 Ontario voters was conducted between last Friday — the day the weed retail scheme was unveiled — and Monday. It is considered accurate to within 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Asked specifically where recreational marijuana should be sold after the federal government legalizes it next July 1, respondents were divided.

A quarter — 24 per cent — said the “Cannabis Control Board of Ontario,” 10 per cent said existing LCBO liquor stores, 16 per cent said pharmacies, 19 per cent said “dispensaries,” which are currently operating illegally, while 2 per cent said convenience stores, 1 per cent said other shops, 6 per cent didn’t know, and 23 per cent oppose any sale of marijuana.

Yufest said Wynne’s decision to limit pot to 40 LCBO-operated stores next year — rising to 150 by 2019 — appears to be contributing to her party’s slight bounce in the polls.

“The minimum wage and pharmacare and all of the other stuff that the government has been rolling out over the last few months … coupled with this is what’s driving both her personal numbers and the party numbers up,” he said.

With an election set for June 7, 2018, the pollster found Patrick Brown’s Progressive Conservatives at 38 per cent, Wynne’s Liberals at 33 per cent, Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats at 23 per cent and the Greens led by Mike Schreiner at 6 per cent.

“We certainly see a tightening between those two parties,” said Yufest, referring to the Tories and the Liberals.

Wynne’s personal approval ratings are still the lowest of the three major party leaders.

The premier had 19 per cent approval, 67 per cent disapproval, and 14 per cent weren’t sure.

Brown had 28 per cent approval, 22 per cent disapproval, and 50 per cent didn’t know.

Horwath led the pack with 37 per cent approval, 19 per cent disapproval, and 43 per cent had no opinion.

Yufest said the fact that half of respondents did not have any opinion on Brown suggests the Tories’ recent seven-figure television ad blitz has not had much impact.

The slick commercials, which have aired during major league sporting events and prime-time programs, were designed to introduce the leader to voters.

“Those messages aren’t breaking through and they’re not resonating among the electorate so whatever messages they put out there or whatever TV ads they bought don’t seem to be breaking through,” he said.

“It doesn’t seem to be translating into higher awareness about Patrick Brown.”

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