Canada’s statisticians survey potheads
“MADE IN CANADA”, not “made in Colorado”: that is how a Canadian senator described the country’s approach to legalising the recreational use of cannabis in a debate last summer. As lawmakers sought to frame rules that would have the best possible chance of squeezing the illicit market and keeping teenagers off the grass, they looked around the world for evidence. Disappointed by how little they found, they decided to blaze a trail.
That meant establishing a baseline for comparison. Before the new law came into force in October 2018, Statistics Canada started to estimate prices and the size of the illicit market, and to carry out quarterly surveys of Canadians’ cannabis usage. Earlier this month it released the fifth of these—the first before-and-after comparison of the same part of a year.
The main finding was a rise in the number of Canadians who had used cannabis in the three months before the survey, of 27% compared with a year earlier. People are probably more willing to admit to getting lit once weed has been legalised. However, half of new cannabis users are aged over 45, which suggests that some of the increase is genuine, says Rosalie Wyonch of the C.D. Howe Institute, a think-tank in Toronto. Middle-aged squares may have decided to try getting high for the first time.
Use by under-25s, by contrast, did...