With Ottawa poised to legalize recreational marijuana next year, researchers are keeping a close eye on use of the so-called demon weed, which has been steadily trending upward over the last couple of decades.
In Ontario, for instance, a survey released Wednesday by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) found that year cannabis use virtually doubled between 1996 and 2015, rising from about eight per cent to almost 15 per cent of respondents.
Significant increases were found among all age groups, but especially among 18- to 29-year-olds, with the proportion of pot smokers jumping from about 18 per cent in 1996 to 38 per cent in 2015.
“We also see that the cannabis-using population is aging, as well,” said senior scientist Robert Mann, who co-authored the CAMH Monitor report on substance use and mental health status among a representative sample of more than 5,000 Ontario adults.
Last year, 23 per cent of those using marijuana were aged 50 and older — an eight-fold jump since 1977, when just three per cent of users were in that age bracket.
The CAMH Monitor is a collection of survey data that has been published every two years for almost the last four decades, allowing researchers to track long-term trends in the use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, as well as identifying problematic behaviours related to mental health within the province’s population.