May 4, 2019 – Our first survey about cannabis since legalization took effect has revealed remarkable changes in public attitudes as well as notable behaviour patterns among users. As legalization appears to have been ushered in with minimal controversy, a large proportion of Canadians have moderated their stance and concerns regarding the policy and the drug. Nevertheless, this has not translated into reefer madness, as there is a minor increase in reported usage levels.  

  • Public acceptance of legalization is widespread, and has grown significantly since July 2018 (64%; +10 compared to July 2018). Acceptance is based on four-in-ten (43%; +8) Canadians providing explicit approval of the policy, and two-in-ten (21%; +2) expressing ambivalence. Acceptance of legalization has also grown significantly in Quebec – where residents are now split on the matter rather than clearly opposed, as they were prior to October 2018.      
  • Public concerns remain, especially about drug-impaired driving and youth usage. However, these and other concerns have declined significantly in the post-legalization period compared to 2017 and 2018.
  • There is a minor but notable increase in usage. Just under two-in-ten Canadians (18%; +5 compared to July 2018) report using marijuana in the past 12 months. However, just 3% of Canadians report using the drug for the first time since legalization.
  • Since legalization, most (57%) past 12-month users report that they have only obtained cannabis legally. Two-in-ten (22%) report buying/getting cannabis both legally and illegally, and one-in-ten (10%) report obtaining it illegally only. Moreover, intent to buy cannabis legally (14%) in the next 12 months is twice as popular as intent to buy it illegally (7%).

These are just some of the findings included in the Wave 4 report of Pollara’s subscription-based syndicated study Cannabis in Canada – the definitive barometer of public and user opinion trends and behaviour patterns on one of Canada’s most prominent public policy topics. Since March 2017, subscribers to the study have received fresh in-depth insights into public and user engagement, perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours as they relate to cannabis policy, products, brands, and retail experience.   For additional research findings, see our short excerpt from the Wave 4 report and the recent article in the Toronto Star.

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