StatsCan report analyzes cannabis use since legalization

Posted on February 28, 2020 in Health Policy Context

Source: – News
February 26, 2020

A new Statistics Canada report on cannabis says use of the substance is up, riding in a vehicle with a driver who has consumed is down, and more Canadians are obtaining their cannabis from legal sources.

What has changed since cannabis was legalized? takes a look at cannabis use trends since legalization took effect in October 2018. Key findings between 2018 and 2019 included:

  • Overall cannabis use had increased from 14.9 per cent to 16.8 per cent.
  • Particular increases were seen in males, adults aged 25 and older, and in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta.
  • Daily or almost daily use remained stable at six per cent.
  • The prevalence of driving within two hours of consumption remained stable at 13.2 per cent, but riding with a driver who had used declined from 5.3 per cent to 4.2 per cent. However, reductions in the number of people who drove with someone who had consumed was limited to just three provinces: Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario.
  • The number of people who get some or all their cannabis from legal sources increased. An estimated 29.4 per cent of cannabis users reported obtaining all of the cannabis they consumed from a legal source – nearly three times higher than before legalization.

The report also identified a growing consensus that cannabis use can harm adolescent brains and that cannabis use initiated at a younger age increases likelihood of developing problematic use. Cannabis use during adolescence is associated with worse mental health and educational outcomes and longer-term personal disadvantage. More frequent users are at the highest risk of problems.

Early indications from this study suggests use among Canadian youth has not increased. However, cannabis use at older ages and overall prevalence did increase.

In 2017, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division published a government submission detailing an approach to cannabis legalization and regulation that would consider public health as the primary objective. CMHA Ontario continues to advocate for a public health approach, encourages government to consider the role of community-based mental health and addictions services, and suggests revenues generated from cannabis sales should be specifically directed toward mental health and addictions services.

To increase public education around cannabis and its use, CMHA Ontario also worked closely with the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health, the Ministry for Colleges and Universities, and the Provincial System Support Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to create a guide for campuses on how to take a public health approach on campuses in the wake of cannabis legalization.

StatsCan report analyzes cannabis use since legalization

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