Since its inception, the regulators of the Canadian legal cannabis market has been focused on two things. First, ensuring cannabis products stay out of the hands of young people. The other prominent aim is to remove income from the black market and organized crime. To properly regulate the cannabis industry, Health Canada understands that they first need to grasp how the products are used.
To understand cannabis use, Health Canada conducted surveys of over 9,000 Canadians between March and May of 2017. The survey probed citizens about their knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes about cannabis use. Questions also covered the controversial topic of driving and smoking. Results from this study were released, providing a first look at when and how Canadians smoke cannabis. It also shows us exactly where people prefer to shop and what they’re buying.
Highlighted results from a recent Health Canada release:
- 28% of respondents considered smoking cannabis occasionally for non-medical purposes to be completely socially acceptable, compared to 19% for using tobacco (including cigarettes, cigars or snuff) and 56% for consuming alcohol.
- 64% of respondents who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months think cannabis could be habit forming, compared to 80% for non-users.
- 94% of respondents who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months smoked cannabis; 34% consumed it in food; 20% consumed cannabis through a vape pen and 14% using a vaporizer.
- 18% of respondents who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months consumed cannabis daily; more than half of respondents (55%) reported using cannabis 3 days or less per month.
- 39% of respondents who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months drove within 2 hours of consumption in their lifetime. Of those respondents, 15% consumed cannabis and alcohol; and 8% consumed cannabis and another drug.
- 75% of all respondents reported that cannabis use affects driving. This drops to 50% when looking at respondents who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months, while 24% of responded “it depends”; 7% responded “I don’t know”; and 19% responded that it does not affect driving.
- The majority of respondents did not specify how much time it takes before it is safe to drive after cannabis use. Almost one in four respondents (23%) said they did not know when it was safe to drive after cannabis use. More than one in three respondents (36%) said that it depends on the person’s tolerance, weight and quantity used.
Health Canada has added this to the wealth of information that they’ve gathered about the industry, plant and average consumer. All of this knowledge will be used to find out exactly where to start with public education and regulatory measures regarding cannabis.
“Our Government is implementing a public health and safety approach to legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis. These survey results reinforce why we have invested in targeted public education and awareness efforts and will give us the information we need to monitor and measure the impact on cannabis use of legalizing, regulating and restricting access to cannabis.” said The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health.
The final report, issued by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, highlighted how important it is to collect baseline data while conducting ongoing surveillance and evaluation. To facilitate robust public education programs the Canadian government has announced an investment of $46M into public education, awareness, and surveillance programs over the next five years.