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B.C. government survey shows increase in cannabis use, legal purchases

Nearly 25,000 people share opinions on usage, habits
(Black Press file photo)

The purchase of cannabis from unlicensed sellers in B.C. is declining, though usage among residents is on the upswing.

Nearly 25,000 people in B.C. shared their opinions and cannabis use habits in a survey released Aug. 2 by the provincial government. The survey showed changes in behaviour among B.C. cannabis consumers, including increased legal purchases from government licensed vendors and fewer people purchasing from unlicensed sellers. 

The survey results show a significant decrease in the number of consumers who report buying from unlicensed stores, from 56 per cent in 2018 to 17 per cent in 2021; and 71 per cent of consumers reported purchasing from licensed retailers that year. Others also get cannabis products from friends (40 per cent) and family (19 per cent) or grow their own (14 per cent).

According to a government news release, the findings suggest most people in B.C. who choose to use cannabis are doing so responsibly.

The report provides the government with people’s opinions and habits surrounding cannabis use, said Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general.

READ MORE: New cannabis shop set to open next to UBC’s Vancouver campus

“It’s important for us to know this information so we can support a strong cannabis sector in B.C. while continuing to keep public health and safety the cornerstone of our policies,” he said.

Data shows there has been a decrease in self-reported driving after cannabis use since 2018, from 28 to 15 per cent in 2021.

Since legalization, the prevalence of cannabis use in B.C. has increased four percentage points, from 28 to 32 per cent.

This report based on 2021 data follows up on an initial survey conducted in 2018 and is one of the first large-scale provincial studies assessing changes in cannabis behaviours and perceptions.

Both surveys were planned as part of the province’s commitment to monitor the implementation of the legal cannabis framework, a news release said. They were designed to provide insights into the impact of the cannabis sector on both public health and economic activities.

Results are representative of B.C.’s population and provide information specific to each health authority and health service delivery area. BC Stats has developed an online application that enables further exploration of the findings.

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