News

Everyone Scared of Legal Weed Was Freaking Out Over Nothing: Report

Despite fears of children getting high and stoned driving, a new Stats Canada report has found that things are pretty much fine.
February 19, 2020, 8:13pm
Weed, cannabis, canada
It turns out legal weed isn't that big of a deal. Photo via VICE 

Despite concerns that legalizing weed would lead to all hell breaking loose, most things have remained the same—and teens are reporting consuming less weed than before, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

Stats Can has been conducting its National Cannabis Survey, an online questionnaire, since February 2018 in an effort to collect data on Canadians’ cannabis habits before and after legalization. While the data has limitations—it’s based on self-reported surveys and answers haven’t been verified—it does paint a pretty chill post-legalization picture.

One of the government’s stated goals of legalizing weed was keeping it out of the hands of kids. Those who were opposed to legalization, meanwhile, claimed that ending prohibition would make it easier for minors to get their hands on weed—one MP went as far as saying weed is just as deadly as fentanyl for children. But according to Stats Canada, the rate of cannabis consumption for 15-17 year olds fell from 19.8 percent in 2018 to 10.4 percent in 2019.

Overall, cannabis consumption is up slightly from 15 percent to nearly 17 percent, with 5.1 million Canadians 15 and older reporting using weed in 2019. The Atlantic provinces were the highest with Nova Scotia reporting about 26 percent of residents consuming cannabis, followed by Newfoundland (21 percent) and New Brunswick (20 percent.) In Quebec, which has some of the strictest weed laws on the books (growing and most edibles are banned there), only about 12 percent of residents reported consuming weed.

Unsurprisingly, a lot more people reported getting some or all of their weed from a legal source in 2019; before legalization, the only way to get legal weed in Canada was to become a medical patient. The report said an estimated 29.4 percent of cannabis users reported obtaining all of the cannabis they consumed from a legal source in 2019—up from 10.7 percent pre-legalization. Some people reported getting their weed from multiple sources, with 52 percent reporting getting at least some of their weed legally in 2019.

However, there were other categories such as “from a friend” or “unspecified” which could mean a legal or illegal source.

Driving was another big concern, with the federal government making sweeping changes to impaired driving laws in order to crack down on an anticipated increase in driving high. But, according to Stats Canada, the percentage of survey respondents who said they drove within two hours of consuming weed remained the same—13.2 percent.

Surveys were conducted each quarter, with around 5,600 respondents each time.

Follow Manisha on Twitter