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Changes in Canada’s Cannabis Use: 1 Year After Legalization

Written by Paul James

Cannabis is one of the most widespread substances used in Canada, with nearly half the population reporting to have used it at least once in their lives. Back in 2018, Canada became the second country to legalize cannabis on a nationwide scale.

Since then, trends for cannabis use have changed drastically. And much of it has to do with the market.

Back when initially legalized, it was projected that Canada’s cannabis industry would be a gold rush for investors. However, much of those hopes tanked alongside the cannabis’ stock market. According to the New York Times, Canada’s six largest cannabis companies fell by an average of 56% the first year after legalization.

There are several different reasons for this downfall, most of which can be observed in usage trends. The biggest factor when it comes to market projections is accessibility. In some areas, such as the Northwest Territories and Yukon, cannabis isn’t nearly as accessible as it is in British Columbia. The main problem is there aren’t nearly as many cannabis businesses stretching over such a large amount of land.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, many cannabis users within Canada were between ages 15 to 34. In fact, this population makes up most cannabis users, with 24% of total users between ages 15 and 24 and 26.9% of users between 25 and 34. As ages go up, cannabis use starts to decline. Only 6.1% of users are 65 or older.

Though these trends have remained fairly consistent throughout 2019, there have been some changes both in gender usage and where people are purchasing from.

In early 2019, men made up most cannabis purchasers at 22.3% of the total population while women ranked at 12.7%. This number nearly evened out by the end of 2019, where men were still the majority at 18.3%, but women came close behind at 15.1%.

The real seller regarding these statistics is location. Provinces within Canada must layout their own legislation when it comes to regulations surrounding cannabis. Though this hasn’t had much effect on legality as state-by-state regulations do in America, there are minor rules that can affect usage and sales.

For example, the province of Nunavut allows no more than 150 grams to be stored within one’s home whereas most provinces have no limit. In another example, some provinces — such as the Northwest Territories — allow cannabis to be consumed in public spaces as long as no public events are taking place. In other provinces, cannabis is only allowed to be consumed on private property or in designated smoking areas.

These laws are admittedly minor when considering cannabis consumption is still legal on a national scale. But these minor implications are bound to influence the market of that region and how that population views cannabis usage. This, in turn, affects accessibility.

If Canada’s cannabis industry wants to up its sales and recover from their stock market fall, businesses should be keen on these statistics. Such insight not only shows us who’s buying, but who to market to.

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Paul James

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