More Canadians Using Cannabis Since Drug’s Legalization: Statistics Canada

Canadian cannabis usage increased in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period of 2018 as the number of people obtaining the recreational drug from legal sources more than doubled, according to Statistics Canada.

About 5.3 million, 18% of Canadians aged 15 and older, reported using cannabis in the first three months of 2019, according to Statistics Canada’s quarterly "National Cannabis Survey," which is the first to show Canada-wide results since the drug became legal nationally last October. That is up from the 14% of the country who reported using cannabis just one year earlier ahead of legalization.

Among provinces, Nova Scotia lost its title as the jurisdiction with the highest percentage of cannabis users to Alberta, where 21.5% of the province said they used cannabis in the first quarter of the year. Ontario was close behind with 20% of the population using the drug, while Nova Scotia usage fell to 18.5% from 20% a year ago.

Meanwhile, more Canadians reported obtaining cannabis from legal sources in the first quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter last year. About 47% of cannabis users, or 2.5 million Canadians, obtained cannabis from the legal market in the first quarter, compared with 23%, or 954,000 people, over the same period in 2018, Statistics Canada said.

The national statistics agency, based in Ottawa, also noted that about 38% of users reported obtaining their cannabis from the illicit market, such as a dealer, compared with 51% in the first quarter of 2018. As well, new cannabis consumers – identified as those who began using in the past three months – were less likely to obtain cannabis from an illegal source (23%) compared with other users (40%).