First-Time Cannabis Use Up After Legalization, StatsCan Reports

Article by CBC News

More Canadians say they’ve used cannabis recreationally since it was legalized last fall, particularly those aged 45 to 64 and males, according to Statistics Canada.

About 18 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older, or about 5.3 million people, reported pot use in the last three months, the federal agency said in its quarterly report on Thursday.

Early indications point to more use right after it was legalized last October, when the reported use stood at 14 per cent.

“One of the things … unique with this survey is the number of respondents who said they’re using for the first time. So they started, in this case, in the post-legalization period,” said Michelle Rotermann, a senior analyst in Statistics Canada’s health analysis division.

In the first three months of 2018, about 330,000 Canadians said they’d tried cannabis for the first time. A year later, it was up to 650,000, she said.

J.F. Crépault, a senior policy analyst at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, says the Toronto facility wants to see if the initial spike in use translates into longer term, problematic use.

Following legalization in Colorado for instance, cannabis use spiked and then rates went back down to about the same as in surrounding states where it remains illegal, Crépault said.

“Researchers sometimes refer to this as a ‘straw fire effect’ in the sense that it kind of burns bright for a very short amount of time and then goes back down,” he said.

The greatest proportion of users are aged 18 to 25 (30 per cent) compared with people in their mid 20s and older. But an increasing proportion of new users were aged 45 and older.

The average age of a cannabis user in the country is now 38, Rotermann said.

Many of them are men. Cannabis use increased among males from 16 per cent last year to 22 per cent so far this year. There was no change among females.

Read the full article here.

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