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Health Canada releases first snapshot of cannabis use in Canada
December 19, 2017 | Health Canada
OTTAWA, Dec. 19, 2017 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is committed to implementing a public health and safety approach to legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis, to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth and the profits away from criminals and organized crime. As part of this approach, it is important to better understand how cannabis is used today, so that we can measure the impacts of the proposed legislative and regulatory changes related to cannabis and inform policies and programs, including public education and awareness activities.
Between March and May 2017, Health Canada asked 9,215 Canadians about their knowledge, behaviours and attitudes towards cannabis use, including driving behaviours after consuming cannabis. Results from the 2017 Canadian Cannabis Survey released today provide, for the first time, a snapshot of when Canadians use cannabis, how much they use, where they get it, how often they use it, and in what form.
The Survey contributes to the foundation of information that is necessary to measure and monitor the impacts of the proposed legislative and regulatory approach to cannabis, and complements previously collected data on the prevalence of cannabis use in the general population.
The survey results reinforce the Government of Canada’s continued public education efforts on the facts around cannabis as well as on drug-impaired driving, to support Canadians in making informed choices on cannabis use.
“Our Government is implementing a public health and safety approach to legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis. These survey results reinforce why we have invested in targeted public education and awareness efforts and will give us the information we need to monitor and measure the impact on cannabis use of legalizing, regulating and restricting access to cannabis.”
– The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health
“Driving while impaired by cannabis or other drugs is dangerous and illegal. The message is simple – don’t drive high.”
– The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
“Bill C-45 has benefited from the extensive input of Canadians and experts in many fields. As we move towards the legalization and strict regulation of cannabis, it is important for us to continue the work of understanding trends in the use of cannabis so that our laws remain effective at achieving our public health goals.”
– The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“Results from the Canadian Cannabis Survey confirm that our Government is taking the right approach to strictly regulating and restricting access to cannabis – an approach that will protect youth, reduce their access to cannabis, and focus on public education of the health impacts of cannabis use and of the risks of driving after consuming cannabis.”
– Bill Blair, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health
9,215 Canadians aged 16 and older responded to the 2017 Canadian Cannabis Survey
The survey was designed to seek a greater number of respondents who use cannabis in order to obtain more detailed information on cannabis use in Canada, such as frequency of use and methods of consumption. As such, it is important to note that the Canadian Cannabis Survey is not a general population survey and its results are not representative of the Canadian population.
Key highlights from the Canadian Cannabis Survey include:
28% of respondents considered smoking cannabis occasionally for non-medical purposes to be completely socially acceptable, compared to 19% for using tobacco (including cigarettes, cigars or snuff) and 56% for consuming alcohol.
64% of respondents who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months think cannabis could be habit forming, compared to 80% for non-users.
94% of respondents who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months smoked cannabis; 34% consumed it in food; 20% consumed cannabis through a vape pen and 14% using a vaporizer.
18% of respondents who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months consumed cannabis daily; more than half of respondents (55%) reported using cannabis 3 days or less per month.
39% of respondents who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months drove within 2 hours of consumption in their lifetime. Of those respondents, 15% consumed cannabis and alcohol; and 8% consumed cannabis and another drug.
75% of all respondents reported that cannabis use affects driving. This drops to 50% when looking at respondents who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months, while 24% of responded “it depends”; 7% responded “I don’t know”; and 19% responded that it does not affect driving.
The majority of respondents did not specify how much time it takes before it is safe to drive after cannabis use. Almost one in four respondents (23%) said they did not know when it was safe to drive after cannabis use. More than one in three respondents (36%) said that it depends on the person’s tolerance, weight and quantity used.
The Government conducts two other surveys on the use of controlled substances, which have already established population level, past-year use rates of cannabis:
The Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS), a biennial survey of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use among Canadians 15 and older; and
The Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CSTADS), a biennial survey that collects data from students in grades 6-12 on tobacco, alcohol and drug use.
The final report issued by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation highlighted the importance of collecting baseline data as well as ongoing surveillance and evaluation.
The Government of Canada has announced an investment of $46M over the next 5 years to ensure that a robust public education, awareness and surveillance program is in place to inform Canadians of the health and safety risks of cannabis use and monitor its use.
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