Does Legalization Turn the Population Into Potheads? Canada Says No
The belief that legalization increases the number of cannabis consumers is exaggerated according to recent statistics.
One of the big questions about marijuana legalization is whether it impacts the number of people who choose to consume cannabis. In some ways, it might seem intuitive that legal weed leads to increased consumption. But in fact, it appears that the exact opposite is true. At least that’s what new stats from Canada’s national statistics office indicate.
Statistics Canada’s New Report Shows No Increase in Marijuana Use
Statistics Canada recently published new stats about Canada’s cannabis consumption. Importantly, these numbers reflect changes in the wake of national legalization, which went into effect last October.
The new report covers cannabis consumption metrics from the fourth quarter of 2018. In particular, the report looks to identify key trends in cannabis use over the past three months.
Among several potentially important findings, the study showed that the legalization of recreational weed did not have any noticeable impact on the number of people consuming weed.
“About 4.6 million or 15% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported using cannabis in the last three months. That was a similar percentage to what was reported before legalization,” the report said.
While consumption has so far remained consistent since legalization, that could change moving forward. According to the report, a growing number of Canadians said they might begin consuming weed in the future.
More specifically, 19 percent of Canadians said they think they will use cannabis in the next three months. That projection is four percent higher than the number of residents who are already cannabis consumers.
Other Key Findings
Along with stats regarding the number of people consuming cannabis, the new report also highlights a number of other key findings:
- Men continue to consume marijuana at higher rates than women. Specifically, 19 percent of men reported consuming weed, compared to 11 percent of women. This trend is consistent with historical consumption trends.
- Younger people tend to consume weed more than older people. One-third of 18 to 24-year-olds reported using marijuana. Other age groups ranged anywhere from 5 percent to 21 percent.
- While there are a lot of Canadians who use cannabis, there is also a large cohort of people who do not. Specifically, 55 percent of Canadians said they have never consumed marijuana. Additionally, roughly 30 percent of people who have previously consumed weed said they do not consume it anymore.
Along with all of these data points, the report revealed a number of distinctions between those who consume weed recreationally and those who consume weed medicinally.
For starters, nearly half of cannabis consumers described themselves as recreational users. Roughly one quarter of consumers said they are strictly medical users. And the remaining quarter or so said they sometimes consume for recreational and sometimes for medical uses.
Interestingly, those who consume weed for medicinal purposes tend to consume weed much more frequently than recreational consumers.
Similarly, whether one is a recreational or medical consumer seems to dictate how and where a person buys their weed. Specifically, 26 percent of recreational consumers bought their cannabis at a legal retailer, while a full 86 percent of medical consumers with medical marijuana documentation said they obtained their weed from a legal source.