By / October 27, 2023

Majority of Canadian Consumers Purchase Cannabis Only from Legal Sources

Two-thirds of cannabis consumers in Canada exclusively buy their cannabis from legal sources, according to a recent survey conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights based in Toronto.

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Survey Results on Legal Cannabis Purchases

The latest data, published on the fifth anniversary of the lifting of the prohibition in Canada, suggests that the legalized industry might hold a larger share in the overall market than previously thought. According to Pollara, 65% of respondents said they only buy legal cannabis, marking a seven-percentage-point increase since November 2022.

In March 2021, a Pollara survey found that half of the consumers only bought cannabis from legal sources. These figures from Pollara are higher than those reported by Health Canada.

Comparison with Health Canada Data

According to the annual survey by Health Canada, roughly half of the consumers “always” bought cannabis from a legal source last year – significantly lower than the Pollara study’s findings. This is an increase from 43% in 2021 and 37% in 2020.

The Pollara survey also revealed that individuals who consumed cannabis before and after its legalization likely report a lower frequency of use than before legalization. The company conducted the survey among 2,006 randomly selected adults regarding various aspects of the cannabis industry.

Because the survey was conducted online, there is no assigned margin of error, although studies of this size typically have a margin of error of about plus/minus 2.2%.

Unsettling Trends Highlighted in the Survey

The survey highlighted some potentially concerning trends.

It showed that 27% of Canadians used cannabis in the last 12 months, marking a significant increase compared to 11% in 2017.

However, Health Canada’s data significantly differs, suggesting that 22% of Canadians used cannabis in 2017, increasing to 27% in 2022.

Public Opinion on Cannabis Legalization

The survey also found that more Canadians support the legalization of cannabis than ever before. Fifty-two percent expressed full support, while 20% were ambivalent and slightly less than one-quarter of respondents opposed legal cannabis.

Canada legalized cannabis mainly for public health reasons, adopting a more health-focused approach compared to some other countries that have also legalized cannabis.

Impact on Public Health and Safety

Businesses involved in the cannabis industry might find some of the survey’s findings on public health troubling. More Canadians believe that the overall health of the youth has been negatively disrupted by the legalization of cannabis (38%) compared to those who claim it had a positive impact (15%). About 25% of the respondents believe it had virtually no impact.

Other Findings in the Survey

  • Nearly half believe that road safety has been negatively disrupted by the legalization of cannabis (46%), while 9% argue that roads are safer, and 27% believe it has virtually no impact.
  • 11% of adult Canadians admitted to using cannabis for the first time after its legalization.

The report sheds new light on the perceived effects of cannabis legalization before 2018 compared to the current situation. It’s notable that before legalization, about two-thirds of Canadians believed that the number of young people using cannabis – as well as the frequency – would increase due to legalization.

A New Perspective on Cannabis Legalization’s Effects

This report gives a new perspective, particularly illuminating the changing attitudes and behaviors of Canadians towards cannabis since its legalization. It seems essential to continue monitoring these trends to understand better the full impact of legalization on Canadian society and its various sectors such as public health and road safety.

The full report is available here.

(Featured image by Thought Catalog via Unsplash)

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