All eyes have been on Canada after the country approved the recreational use of the drug through the Cannabis Act in 2018. Two years on, statistics from Health Canada have confirmed that legalising cannabis did not increase cannabis use in teenagers, suggesting reefer madness may be more fear-mongering than factually sound.
Before legalisation, 19.8% of Canadians between the age of 15 and 17 had tried cannabis. As of 2020, this number has halved to 10.4%, as the drug has dramatically decreased in popularity over the past two years.
In older age groups, legal dispensaries have not made any dramatic changes to cannabis use either. Since 2018, there has been no change in the cannabis use of Canadians aged 18 to 24 as only 33% of this group had tried cannabis.
This indicates it’s likely older Canadians who are trying pot (which is increasingly common in many countries – including Australia). Among all Canadian provinces, cannabis use by people 15 and older increased by 2%.
However, it’s unlikely these users are picking up a long term habit. The number of Canadians using cannabis regularly has not changed since before legalisation, with 6% of the population consuming cannabis daily. This amounts to 1.8 million people.
While the number of citizens consuming cannabis hasn’t risen dramatically, cannabis sales have increased. In July this year, Canadians bought over $230 million of cannabis – so what gives?
In 2018, just 23% of regular cannabis users were buying legal weed. In 2020, that number has risen to 52%, showing that the majority of cannabis users are now buying from dispensaries.
Between 2018 and 2019 there was also no change in the number of Canadians driving within two hours of consuming cannabis, as it remained at 13% of users, or 620,000 people.
Finally, Health Canada’s report gives a brief overview of how Canadians like to consume weed. In June this year, 73% of the sales were of dried cannabis, 14% of sales were of cannabis extracts, like CBD oil, and 13% of sales were edibles.
In an article published in Canadian publication The Hill Times, Michael Boudreau, a professor leading the study at St. Thomas University, concluded with:
Reefer madness has not overtaken Canada. Two years into the legal regime of cannabis and statistics indicate that marijuana use has not skyrocketed.