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Canada legalized weed five years ago, this is how pot use has changed since then

This is how cannabis use in Canada has changed since legalization (Courtesy: Canva)

Pot has been a hot topic in Canada for longer than weed has been legal. In fact, Statistics Canada found that marijuana use in our country was on the rise for three decades ahead of legalization. Cannabis use more than doubled between 1985 to 2017, increasing from 5.6 per cent to 14.8 per cent.

Today marks five years since cannabis was legalized for non-medical use, production and sale in Canada. On the fifth anniversary, people’s thoughts on legalization continue to vary.

“My dad had always been against Weed until Canada made it legal. And then one night I was smoking outside & he asked for a hit. And then went back inside lol we never spoke about it or brought it up,” one person shared on X. 

“I have autism, CPTSD, and anxiety. [Medications for] those diagnoses cost thousands here in Canada. Weed is the only thing that keeps me stable. I’m not gonna apologize for that,” wrote another X user.

Cannabis Use Continues to Increase

While opinions on marijuana and legalization may vary, cannabis use has continued to increase in Canada since the drug was legalized. 

Statistics Canada found that in 2021, 22 per cent of Canadians who were at least 15 years old said they had used cannabis in the last year. However, data shows that marijuana use has not increased for the 15-17 age group following legalization. Cannabis use is most common for those between 18 and 24 years old, according to the data.

Looking at the places with the highest rates of cannabis use, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island topped the list. Meanwhile, Quebecers reported less cannabis use than average. 

Data shows that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of marijuana may have gone up as a result of the changes many people experienced in their daily routines and related stress.

“Whether the higher rates of cannabis use reported during the pandemic will continue is yet to be determined, but as daily routines are reinstated and newer data become available, this can be studied,” reads the StatCan report. 

Marijuana-Related Offences Down

Studies found that by the first half of this year, more than 70 per cent of the total value of marijuana consumed across Canada was legal. This is up from 22 per cent at the end of 2018. 

StatCan reported that before marijuana was legalized, cannabis possession made up the majority of cannabis-related drug offences in Canada. Since legalization, there has been a decrease in weed-related offences, and now the majority of offences surround the illegal importation and exportation of marijuana. 

For example, in 2022, 67 per cent of the 10,824 total cannabis offences were for illicit importation and exportation. Meanwhile, just 12 per cent of marijuana-related offences were related to possession.

When it comes to where Canadians are buying their weed, an estimated 68 per cent of people who use cannabis say they got at least some of it from a legal source like a dispensary. This is a 21-per cent increase from just after legalization, when 47 per cent of people said the same.



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