Ethnic divide over cannabis legalization in BC

Published on October 21, 2021 by Special to the oz.

Gastown steam clock in Vancouver Photo: Sinidex/Adobe
Almost two-in-five cannabis users in British Columbia (39%) acknowledge that “all” of their product was obtained at a licensed retailer.

A majority of British Columbians remain in favour of the legalization of marijuana three years after it was first implemented across Canada, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, 62% of British Columbians agree with marijuana being legal in Canada, down eight points since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in April 2020.

While more than seven-in-10 British Columbians of European ancestry (72%) favour the legal status of marijuana in Canada, the proportion of supporters drops to 44% among residents of South Asian descent and 41% among residents of East Asian origins.

Fewer than one-in-seven British Columbians are in favour of legalizing other substances, such as ecstasy (15%), heroin (14%), powder cocaine (13%), crack cocaine (11%), methamphetamine or “crystal meth” (11%) and fentanyl (10%).

“The proportion of new marijuana consumers in British Columbia continues to grow,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Across the province, 18% of residents say they tried cannabis for the first time only after it became legal, up from 6% when we asked this question in April 2019.”

Less than half buy all their weed legal

Almost two-in-five cannabis users in British Columbia (39%) acknowledge that “all” of their product was obtained at a licensed retailer. British Columbians aged 18-to-34 are more likely to say that they are acquiring “all” of their marijuana at a licensed retailer (49%) than those aged 35-to-54 (33%) and those aged 55 and over (36%).

Significant majorities of British Columbians believe the provincial government made the right decision in establishing three guidelines when cannabis became legal in Canada: prohibiting the use of marijuana on school properties and in vehicles (83%, +2), restricting marijuana smoking to areas where tobacco smoking is allowed (71%, -3) and setting 19 years as the legal age to purchase, sell or consume marijuana in British Columbia (72%, -1).

Public support is slightly lower for authorizing adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household under specific conditions (61%, +1) and for establishing the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) as the wholesale distributor of non-medical marijuana in the province (55%, -1).   Across the province, three-in-five British Columbians (60%, -1) believe that companies should be able to administer “drug tests” to employees now that marijuana is legal.

British Columbians of South Asian ancestry are more likely to be in favour of “drug tests” to employees (74%) than their counterparts of East Asian descent (61%) and of European origins (57%).


Results are based on an online study conducted from October 10 to October 12, 2021, among 800 adult British Columbians. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Find the data tables here.

Research Co.