Cannabis use continues to increase in Canada after legalization in 2018

One in five Canadians reported using cannabis as legalization broadens access to products.

Legalization gave Canadians easy access to different forms of cannabis. Viennetta/Getty Images


Cannabis consumption continues to rise in Canada following legalization more than two years ago.

To illustrate, one in five people or 20 percent reported having used recreational cannabis during the fourth quarter of 2020.

This represents an increase from the 18 percent rate of use in the first quarter of 2019. The period followed legalization of cannabis in the preceding year.

Additionally, in the first quarter of 2018 leading up to legalization, 14 percent of Canadians reported using cannabis.

These numbers form part of a report released Wednesday (April 21) by Statistics Canada.

The report summarized findings made by Michelle Rotermann, who works in the health analysis division of the federal agency.

“In addition to the legislative change, there were other changes too, such as the rising social acceptability of cannabis in Canada and the United States, accompanied by a growing perception that cannabis is harmless,” Rotermann wrote.

Rotermann’s study titled ‘Looking back from 2020, how cannabis use and related behaviours changed in Canada’ also shows growing use among females.

In particular, cannabis consumption among women in 2020 rose to equal male rates for the first time.

Daily or almost daily use also increased following legalization.

To demonstrate, daily or almost daily consumption of cannabis rose to 7.9 percent in the last quarter of 2020 compared to 6.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019.

Moreover, the 2020 rate represents an increase from the 5.4 percent level reported in the first quarter of 2018.

Cannabis sales grow with legalization

CannCentral previously reported that Statistics Canada on February 19 this year disclosed that Canadians bought $2.62 billion worth of legal recreational cannabis products in 2020.

This means that sales more than doubled compared to 2019.

In the study, Rotermann also showed consumption rates in provinces.

For example, 24.8 percent of people in B.C. reported cannabis use in the last quarter of 2020.

In Nova Scotia, the study noted a higher level of 27.3 percent. In Ontario, consumption came to 23.1 percent.

Rotterman observed that the three aforementioned provinces reported use “higher than the estimates for the rest of Canada”.

Quebec and Saskatchewan reported 10.6 percent and 13.9 percent, respectively.

This means that residents in these two provinces had lower than average use.

Recreational use of dried cannabis and oil became legal as of October 17, 2018. This became possible with the passage of the Cannabis Act in the same year.

On October 17, 2019, the government allowed the sale of edible cannabis products and concentrates.

CannCentral earlier reported that a market update released by Brightfield Group. The Chicago-based consulting company forecasts sales rising to $4.1 billion in 2021.

Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter at @carlitopablo

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