P.E.I.’s Chief Public Health Office now has a better idea of how Islanders used and viewed cannabis before it became legal.
The province has released the results of a survey conducted in August 2018 — just months before cannabis legalization — which the province’s deputy chief public health officer said offers several useful takeaways.
“The first one isn’t very surprising. Cannabis use is very common in P.E.I.,” said Dr. David Sabapathy.
About half of the more than 4,000 people who completed the survey reported they had used cannabis at some point in their lives, and about a quarter had used it in the past year.
However, Sabapathy said he was more surprised to see the frequency of use.
“We found that about 25 per cent of those who had used cannabis actually use it daily, or almost daily. We also found that certain populations tended to use cannabis more, and that included those with lower education, lower employment, lower income levels and lower self-rated mental health.”
Teenage cannabis use
The survey was open to Islanders ages 16 and up, and it found younger people were more likely to use cannabis. It also found those who started using cannabis before age 15 were more likely to be current users.
Sabapathy said the survey results provide a baseline of data, which will help the department to develop policy and educational campaigns.
“Sixty per cent of people who started using cannabis started before the age of 19. And so for that population, we want to make sure that there’s not advertising and marketing that’s targeting youth around cannabis use. And that’s the type of policies we can help set that will help set up our youth for success.”