Canadians support pot legalization: adviser

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OTTAWA – The public safety minister’s top bureaucrat has advised him Canadians are “increasingly likely” to support the legalization or decriminalization of drugs, including marijuana.

It’s a message that runs counter to the Conservative government’s firm opposition to softer penalties for recreational pot smokers — an issue that has flared up regularly on the federal campaign trail.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau proposes legalizing marijuana — selling and taxing it much like alcohol — while the NDP’s Tom Mulcair has come out in favour of decriminalizing pot.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has harshly criticized Trudeau’s legalization plan, saying no one believes selling marijuana in stores will better protect children.

In a June memo to Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, deputy minister Francois Guimont says public opinion polls suggest the majority of Canadians support the legalization or decriminalization of cannabis, and young people tend to view the drug as less harmful than other illegal substances.

A copy of the briefing note was released under the Access to Information Act.

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