Cannabis in Canada: Insight from Canada’s Latest Survey

canadian cannabis survey

Canada’s relationship with cannabis is evolving, and as the latest data reveals in the Canadian government’s annual Canadian Cannabis Survey, so are people’s habits, perceptions, and preferences. We have summarized for you the most interesting and impactful findings.

Who’s Using Cannabis?

The survey found that cannabis use remains prevalent in Canada. Notably, 14% of Canadians aged 16 and older reported using cannabis in the past 12 months. This statistic represents a decrease from previous years, indicating potential shifts in consumption patterns.

Frequency of Use

Among those who reported using cannabis in the past year, the majority consumed it occasionally, with less than 1 day per month being the most common frequency. Interestingly, this pattern was consistent across various cannabis products, ranging from topical applications to cannabis-infused beverages. Daily or almost daily use was reported by 31% of those who consumed dried flower or leaf, the most commonly used product.

Average Amount Used

On average, individuals who consumed dried flower or leaf reported using 0.9 grams on a typical day, a slight decrease from previous years. Those who used edible cannabis reported consuming approximately 1.4 servings, while cannabis oil for oral use saw an increase, with an average of 2.3 millilitres per use. For products like hashish or kief and cannabis concentrate or extract, the average amount consumed was 0.5 grams and 0.3 grams, respectively.

Home Growing and Preparation

The survey revealed that 4% of Canadians and 10% of non-medical cannabis users grew cannabis plants in or around their homes in the past year. Among those growing, an interesting finding was that 21% had authorization from Health Canada for medical purposes. On average, individuals reported cultivating 3.4 cannabis plants.

Additionally, 6% of Canadians reported preparing cannabis edibles or beverages at home in the past year. This number has seen a decline from previous years, indicating potential changes in consumer preferences or easier access to commercial products.

THC and CBD Preferences

Cannabis products vary in their composition of two primary compounds: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is known for its psychoactive effects, while CBD offers potential therapeutic benefits without the “high.” In 2023, 28% of cannabis users reported using products with higher THC and lower CBD, while 15% preferred higher CBD and lower THC products.

Perceived Effects

A crucial aspect of cannabis use is understanding its effects on various aspects of life. According to the survey, 50% of cannabis users felt that cannabis had a positive impact on their overall quality of life. Mental health followed closely, with 43% reporting positive effects. Interestingly, the perception of negative effects increased in certain areas since 2019. These findings underscore the importance of monitoring how cannabis affects individuals on a personal level.

Storage and Safety

Cannabis should be stored safely, especially in households with children. The survey revealed that 76% of cannabis users with children under 18 stored their cannabis in childproof, locked, or out-of-reach containers. However, 25% stored it in unlocked containers, which is a cause for concern, as it increases the risk of accidental consumption.

Sources and Purchasing

In 2023, 73% of Canadians reported purchasing cannabis from legal sources, such as authorized stores or websites. This marks an increase from previous years, indicating growing trust in legal avenues. Only 3% reported using illegal purchase sources, a decrease from previous years.

Furthermore, 69% of cannabis users reported “always” obtaining cannabis from legal or licensed sources.

Factors Influencing Purchasing Decisions

When choosing where to purchase cannabis, Canadians prioritize several factors. Price (42%), convenience (15%), and product strength (9%) were the most commonly considered factors. These findings highlight the importance of affordability, accessibility, and product potency for consumers.

Spending Habits

On average, individuals who used cannabis in the past year spent approximately $63 per month on cannabis products. Notably, female users reported spending less than their male counterparts, with an average monthly expenditure of $58 compared to $68.

Spending at legal sources averaged around $54 per month, whereas spending at illegal sources declined significantly to an average of $8 per month. These trends indicate a continued shift toward legal and regulated cannabis markets.

Types and Frequency of Products

Cannabis products come in various forms, and their popularity has evolved. Dried flower or leaf remains the most common choice, with 58% of users reporting it as their primary product. Edible cannabis products, vape pens, and cannabis oil for oral use also gained popularity.

On average, users purchased or received 18 grams of dried flower or leaf per month, while they consumed eight servings of edibles, 1.3 cannabis cartridges or vape pens, and 18 millilitres of cannabis oil for oral use.

Free Cannabis Products

Interestingly, some individuals reported receiving cannabis products for free. Thirteen percent received edible cannabis for free, while 12% obtained dried flower or leaf without cost. Nine percent even reported obtaining cannabis vape pens or cartridges for free.

Assessment of Problematic Use

Cannabis use, like any substance, can lead to problematic use for some individuals. The survey addressed this concern by asking if respondents had ever felt the need for professional help due to their cannabis use. Only 5% of respondents reported feeling this need, while 2% had actually received professional help.

Driving and Cannabis

Driving under the influence of cannabis is a matter of great concern. The survey provided insights into this issue, revealing that 12% of cannabis users admitted to driving within 2 hours of smoking or vaporizing cannabis in the past year. Similarly, 8% reported driving within 4 hours of ingesting cannabis.

Alarming, though, was the finding that 9% of respondents had been passengers in a vehicle driven by someone who had used cannabis within the previous 2 hours. This underscores the importance of awareness and responsible consumption.

Opinions on Cannabis and Driving

Most respondents agreed that cannabis use impairs one’s ability to drive. In fact, 86% believed that it does, reflecting a growing awareness of the risks associated with driving under the influence of cannabis. A substantial 79% of those who used cannabis in the past year felt that cannabis impairs driving ability.

However, there remains a percentage (13%) who believe that impairment depends on the situation, and a small fraction (5%) thinks cannabis does not impair driving at all. 

Likelihood of Being Caught

Opinions on the likelihood of being caught by the police while driving under the influence of cannabis varied. While 41% believed it was “somewhat likely” that one would be caught for alcohol-impaired driving, only 24% thought the same for cannabis-impaired driving. 

Cannabis for Medical Purposes

Cannabis use for medical purposes is a distinct category with unique considerations. In 2023, 10% of Canadians aged 16 and older reported using cannabis for medical reasons. This marked a decrease from previous years, possibly due to changes in survey methodology.

Of those using cannabis for medical purposes, 18% did so with a medical document from a healthcare professional. The survey also found that frequency of use varied, with 28% using it less than once a month, 27% using it daily, and 15% using it 2 to 3 days per month.

Symptoms and Disorders Treated

Individuals using cannabis for medical purposes reported a wide range of symptoms, diseases, or disorders they aimed to address. The top three concerns were problems sleeping or insomnia (45%), chronic pain (33%), and anxiety (31%). 

Reducing Other Medications

It’s worth noting that 44% of those using cannabis for medical purposes reported that it helped decrease their use of other medications. The top five medications that were reduced due to cannabis use included non-opioid pain relievers (56%), anti-inflammatories (54%), opioid pain relievers (26%), sedatives (23%), and anti-depressants (16%).

Safety Considerations

Finally, the survey explored the safety aspect of cannabis use. It revealed that 1% of respondents reported accidental consumption of cannabis in the home, with pets being the most commonly affected. This highlights the importance of proper storage and vigilance, especially in households with children or animals.

The 2023 Canadian Cannabis Survey provides valuable insights into the evolving landscape of cannabis use in Canada.

If you still have questions, please consider talking one-on-one with our team at HelloMD. The appointment is free and you can talk with a physician that is highly knowledgeable in cannabis and CBD use for alleviating negative health symptoms.