Is the COVID-19 pandemic influencing how young adults are using cannabis?
That’s what one Ontario Tech student is trying to find out through a new research project.
Susan Yousufzai, a master of health sciences degree candidate, recently launched an online survey that will gather data on cannabis use among young adults ages 18 to 29, including how often they use it, how much they use and the mode of consumption.
She says legalization of cannabis followed closely by a pandemic, raises a lot of questions and that there are “big gaps” in the available research.
For example, has the fact that COVID-19 is a respiratory virus changed people’s views about lung health and led to more consumption of cannabis edibles?
Is vaping seen as a safer alternative to smoking?
Are people using more cannabis because the pandemic has caused them to be lonely, bored, anxious or depressed?
“We already know the prevalence is so high in this cohort,” Yousufzai says, noting that about 33 per cent of young adults use cannabis. “Given the respiratory nature of the virus and the fact that the most frequent modes of cannabis consumption are smoking or vaping, health experts are concerned about compromised respiratory systems in patients.”
Statistics Canada data shows cannabis sales were up 19 per cent in March compared to the previous month, with $181 million worth of cannabis sold.