16 Eye-Opening Marijuana Statistics Canada for 2021

In recent years, governments all around the world have recognized the economic, medical, and industrial potential of cannabis. What followed was the swift decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Uruguay, and Canada, to mention only a few states and countries. 

As you’re probably aware:

Cannabis has been legal for sale in Canada since October 17, 2018. As a result, marijuana statistics Canada have become much more relevant and accurate, as statisticians are encouraged to investigate the effects of the legalization of weed in Canada.

Today, both medical and recreational cannabis use in Canada is formally recognized and regulated by the government. 

Let’s see what the marijuana stats have to say on the matter.

Essential Marijuana Statistics Canada (Editor’s Choice)

  • In 2020, the legal Canadian cannabis market made around $7 billion in sales.
  • Around 15% of Canadians use cannabis at least once a year.
  • Young people aged 19 to 24 are the most likely to be cannabis users, with 33% using marijuana at least once every three months.
  • 75% of users spend less than $250 on cannabis every three months.
  • Up to 50% of users purchase their cannabis only from illegal dealers. 
  • Medical marijuana in Canada was legalized in 2001, followed by recreational cannabis in 2018
  • The hemp ban was lifted in 1998

Cannabis Use in Canada Before Legalization

1. Canadian law prohibited the use of cannabis in 1923.

(Source: Canadian Encyclopedia)

Most Canadians at the time had never heard of this psychoactive agent. In 1923, cannabis enjoyed the same treatment as cocaine and opium. The first possession offenses occurred in 1937, which shows that Canadians clearly weren’t all that interested in marijuana at the time. 

As the 20th century went on, the ban persisted. By the 1960s and 1970s, Canadians could get arrested, fined $1,000, and jailed for six months for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

2. Between 40% to 70% of Canadians favored marijuana legalization in the period leading up to 2018.

(Source: Canadian Encyclopedia)

Many Canadians criticized prohibition in the early 21st century. Most people wanted strong government regulation of marijuana imports, production, and selling. They also favored tight control over cannabis use in adolescents. 

At the same time: 

The fiercest opponents of legalization were afraid that this would only make marijuana more readily available to adolescents who otherwise wouldn’t be inclined to use it. As we’ll see, marijuana use statistics show that the overall number of cannabis users in Canada was increasing even under prohibition. 

3. Hemp was illegal in Canada until 1998.

(Source: Cannabis Culture)

Hemp statistics Canada are possibly a reflection of a war of interests rather than a war on drugs. In fact, hemp doesn’t have any psychoactive effects. It’s mainly used as a source of high-quality material for the production of various products – from clothing to oil. 

With that in mind:

It should come as no surprise that entrepreneurs who would see their profits shrink due to hemp cultivation have supported a broader ban on all cannabis species. 

A line was drawn: 

Any strain below 0.3% of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) could possibly be regarded as hemp and suitable for industrial use. This made it quite hard for farmers to choose the optimal variant, as THC percentage is not the only factor determining the plant’s industrial and cultural viability. 

marijuana statistics canada

4. According to statistics on Canada cannabis, use in Ontario increased fivefold between 1977 and 2015.

(Source: NCBI)

In fact, marijuana use in Canada’s most populous province doubled from 2005 to 2015 alone. Marijuana use is significantly higher among Canadians born after 1946, which adds to the body of research suggesting that more and more people use this psychoactive substance. 

What’s more:

The Canadian Center for Addiction and Mental Health has noted that the diversity and potency of products have also increased. The high potency of marijuana strains is often identified as one of the major causes of higher intoxication rates and various disorders, such as cannabis-induced psychosis and cannabis-induced anxiety disorder. 

Although the 2017/2018 Canada Cannabis Act prohibited the sale of concentrates and cannabis edibles in Canada, licensed sellers were allowed to add these products to their offering in 2019

5. Cannabis was fairly widespread in Canada even before legalization, with 15% of Canadians using cannabis in 2017. 

(Source: Canada.ca)

These Canada cannabis statistics were gathered by the official Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs Survey (CTADS). The survey found that 15% of the population over 15 years of age had used cannabis in the past 12 months. 

More specifically, in 2017, about 4.4 million Canadians used marijuana. The prevalence is higher in younger people:

  • 19% of adolescents aged 15 to 19
  • 33% of young people aged 20 to 24
  • 13% of individuals aged 25 and over

Key takeaway:

Marijuana use statistics from Canada show that college students are most likely o use marijuana. Click To Tweet

Marijuana Statistics Canada since Legalization

6. In 2019, around 33% of 19-to-24-year-olds reported using marijuana in the past three months.

(Source: StatsCanada)

The $64,000 question is:

Has legalization caused a significant increase in the prevalence of marijuana use in the Great White North? 

As we’ve seen, the most ardent advocates of cannabis prohibition were mostly concerned about the effect legalization would have on use rates, especially among adolescents.

This is huge:

Most recent statistics on Canada marijuana use show that such a concern is unwarranted, as the user rates among 19-to-24-year-olds have remained unchanged from the pre-2018 level.

And that’s not all:

7. All the other age groups show similar trends – with relatively constant use rates ranging from 5.9% to 24.4%, marijuana statistics Canada confirm. 

(Source: StatsCanada)

Before the legalization of recreational cannabis, 13% of those older than 25 had used marijuana in the past three months. The rate for this age group increased slightly to 15%. On the other hand, use among adolescents between 15 and 17 declined from 19% in 2018 to 11% in 2019

In general, males are somewhat more likely to consume marijuana.

8. In 2019, residents of Nova Scotia had the highest cannabis use rates in the past three months – 27%. 

(Source: StatsCanada)

There are significant differences across provinces. 

Check this out:

According to the stats about weed legalization in Canada,  Nova Scotia is followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (21%), New Brunswick (20%), Alberta (19%), and British Columbia (19%). Quebec residents (11.8%)  were the least likely to have used marijuana in the three months preceding the survey. 

9. Cannabis legalization data from Canada shows that the daily use of marijuana is not uncommon.

(Source: StatsCanada)

Marijuana statistics Canada from 2019 reveal that 6% of individuals older than 15 use cannabis daily or almost daily. Individuals older than 65 are least likely to be daily users (2.9%), although the rates of daily use in this group are actually increasing. This is perhaps due to the greater availability of medical marijuana, often prescribed for chronic pain and other health issues.

Daily use rates are the highest in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador, going up to 10% of surveyed residents. 

However, it’s important to note that legalization most likely hasn’t caused a significant increase in the number of daily users, which has remained unchained across most age groups. 

10. Only 29.4% of Canadians use legal sources as their only source of marijuana. 

(Source: StatsCanada)

This may come as a surprise, but most Canadians still rely on unofficial and sometimes illegal sources of cannabis.

The thing is:

Official statistics on marijuana tell us that around half of weed users rely at least partially on illegal sources. Around 9% of users grow their own plants.

Key takeaway:

While more and more Canadians are turning to legal cannabis sources, the illegal market is still very much alive. Click To Tweet

11. 25% of all users spend more than $250 on marijuana every three months.

(Source: StatsCanada; Cannabis Business Plan)

These are categorized as high spenders. However, official cannabis statistics for Canada do not differentiate between high spenders. For instance, we don’t know how much the top 10% actually spend per month. 

Generally speaking, the Canadian cannabis market is growing. In 2017, it was worth $5.7 billion, going up to around $7 billion in 2020. Most importantly, the revenues from legal cannabis show licensed sellers are taking over larger and larger parts of the market. In 2018, the legal marijuana market was worth $1.6 billion


Medical Marijuana Statistics Canada

12. Medical marijuana became legal in 2001.

(Source: Canadian Encyclopedia)

The 2001 Marihuana Medical Access Regulations made it possible for certain groups of patients to access state-approved marijuana products. Additionally, patients could obtain authorization to grow their own plants. 

Now:

Much like hemp legalization, medical marijuana legalization was seen by many as just one step towards a broader solution to the problem. In Canada, as in many other countries around the world that embraced medical marijuana, people were ready to manipulate the rules to obtain this product. 

Nowadays, citizens can apply for medical cannabis prescriptions on the government’s official website – www.canada.ca/cannabis. 

13. Canadian doctors recommend medical marijuana to a fairly small group of patients suffering from serious illnesses, such as AIDS and multiple sclerosis.

(Source: NCBI)

Medical marijuana legalization statistics Canada show that doctors are cautious when giving medical marijuana recipes. Medical cannabis can be used by:

  • Patients going through chemotherapy to alleviate neuropathic pain, nausea, and vomiting;
  • Patients suffering from AIDS and certain forms of cancer to improve their appetite;
  • Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis to alleviate seizures and spasticity.

Patients with mental health disorders should not use cannabis, as the effects of this agent can worsen their symptoms. In fact, a significant proportion of cases bring about new problems and mental disorders.

What’s more:

The Center for Addiction and Mental Health Canada discourages medical cannabis use for patients with coronary artery disease, cardiac arrhythmias, unstable blood pressure, and cognitive impairment. 


Cannabis Statistics Canada on Cannabis Use Disorder and Related Problems

14. Modern diagnostic criteria recognize marijuana addiction as a special form of substance use disorder.

(Source: NCBI)

All substance abuse disorders consist of symptoms related to abuse and dependence. Some of the symptoms included in the DSM-5 definition of cannabis use disorder are:

Craving – a persistent urge to consume marijuana

Giving up social, occupational, and recreational activities as a result of the continuous use of cannabis

Using the substance in physically hazardous situations

High tolerance 

Withdrawal (defined as irritability, depression, sleep problems, anxiety, and lack of appetite) 

There are 12 symptoms in total altogether (we didn’t mention all of them). Only pronounced problems with marijuana use lasting over a 12-month period are sufficient to warrant a diagnosis of cannabis use disorder. 

Most marijuana statistics from Canada do not necessarily involve this elaborate assessment of marijuana addiction.

15. Only 2% of Canadians using marijuana in 2013 were labeled as “high risk” users.

(Source: Springer Journal)

Older marijuana addiction statistics Canada are somewhat blurry and hard to interpret because cannabis use disorder is one of the most recent categories in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders issued by the American Psychiatric Association. Due to a lack of research into the long-term effects of cannabis use, we still don’t know much about cannabis use disorder.

Here’s what we do know:

A CTADS study from 2013, which surveyed 13,635 Canadians, found that only a tiny fraction of the 10% of Canadians who had used cannabis in the past three months reported symptoms that are indicative of severe mental health issues. Males and young people aged 15 to 29 were more likely to develop serious symptoms as a result of marijuana use. 

Another curious fact:

50% of young people reported having tried marijuana at least once in their lifetimes.

16. According to 2019 statistics about marijuana, around 13% of all drivers used cannabis and drove a car at least once.

(Source: StatsCanada)

Legalization hasn’t affected the rates of drivers who operate a vehicle under the influence of marijuana.

Now:

We’ve seen that one of the symptoms of cannabis use disorder is the tendency to use cannabis in physically hazardous situations. Moreover, as marijuana overdoses are less dangerous than most other types of overdoses, marijuana and driving have naturally become the focus of current initiatives.

Weed statistics from Canada are positive in this respect, as no significant change was detected in the number of drivers who drive under the influence of marijuana. Men are more likely to engage in this risky behaviour (15.6%) than women (9.4%).


Conclusion

As in many other countries, marijuana in Canada has gone a long way, from obscurity and lack of acknowledgment to long periods of strict prohibition and criminalization to ultimate recognition and legalization. 

Marijuana statistics mostly show that controlling recreational cannabis is quite similar to controlling legal alcohol. Instead of trying to suppress it completely, hoping that people won’t turn to illegal sources, the Canadian government recognized the economic and medical potential of marijuana. 

Actualizing this potential to the fullest necessitates a comprehensive state policy. So far, it seems that Canada knows how to profit while balancing the rate of use. 

FAQ

When was cannabis legalized in Canada?

Medical marijuana was legalized in 2001, and the ban on recreational weed was lifted in 2018. Concentrates and edibles entered legal sales in 2019.

How many people smoke weed in Canada?

Around 15% of Canadians smoke weed when cannabis use is operationalized as any use in the past 12 months. The rates vary across age groups, with 33% of individuals aged 19 to 24 reporting cannabis use in the three months preceding the survey. 

Marijuana statistics Canada show that legalization has significantly increased the total rates of weed use. 

Can you smoke weed in public in Canada?

Medical marijuana can be smoked or vaped in public spaces where tobacco use is also allowed. Use of recreational marijuana is permitted only inside private spaces and private yards. It’s also illegal to smoke marijuana in vehicles outside private spaces. 

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