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Which Province Loves Cannabis the Most?

While cannabis retail sales numbers can be illuminating, the picture they create can be skewed by the vast difference in store numbers and population. We have examined which Canadian city sells the most cannabis, whether city stores or rural stores perform better, and which province has the highest sales per store, and now Statistics Canada’s latest release sheds some light on which province is cannabis’s biggest fan.

Prevalence of Use

When it comes to which province has the most cannabis-consuming citizens, Nova Scotia comes in first place. While it may be Canada’s second-smallest province by area, it’s the country’s second-most densely populated province and according to Statistics Canada, at the end of 2020, 27.3% of Nova Scotians reported having used cannabis within the last three months. This represents a 7.3% increase since early 2018. Neighbouring province Prince Edward Island had a similar increase, rising over eight points from 14.1% of Islanders reporting cannabis use to 22.3% of them.

The province that saw the largest increase, likely to no one’s surprise, was Ontario. Between January 2018 and December 2020, the percentage of Ontarians who said they had used cannabis recently rose 9.6% from 13.5% to 23.1%. Similarly, around 24% of British Columbians said the same, accounting for a 7.1% increase from 2018, and Manitobans rounded out the top five with 22.4%.

Daily Use

Surprisingly, the province that saw the largest increase in daily users was British Columbia. One would think, with the prevalence of grey market storefronts prior to 2018, that finding access to cannabis wouldn’t have been too difficult pre-legalization, so what is the cause of this uptick? In 2018, only 5.4% of cannabis users in British Columbia reported daily or almost daily use, compared to 11.2% by the end of 2020.

In places like Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where access pre-legalization may have been spotty, we see an increase of 5.1% and 4.1% respectively, as more stores open. In fact, Nova Scotia moved from third place to first place when it comes to the number of citizens who consume cannabis daily. In 2018, only 7.3% reported daily use, whereas now, it’s 12.4%.

Manitobans love their cannabis, too. The data shows that 9.6% of Manitobans consume daily, an increase of 2.7% since 2018. Not far behind are Ontario and Alberta, where just over 9% of the population reports a daily cannabis habit. Pre-legalization, only 4.9% of Ontarians consumed daily, however, rates have remained steady in Alberta.

What makes someone in one province use more cannabis than someone from another province? We can only speculate, but once again, Canada’s least-populated provinces show that while they may not have a lot of people, the ones that are there love cannabis and shouldn’t be ignored.

Daily or Almost Daily Use in the Past 3 Months

Q1-2018         Q1-2019         Q4-2020         Change since 2018

NL       7.4%                5.9%                7.4%                +0%
PEI      6.3%                5.4%                8.3%                +2%
NS       7.3%                6.7%               12.4%              +5.1%
NB      4.6%                7.7%                8.7%              +4.1%
QU      3.8%                3.4%                2.5%               -1.3%
ON      4.9%                6.4%                9.3%             +4.4%
MB      6.9%                4.1%                9.6%              +2.7%
SK       6.4%                7.3%                4.7%               -1.7%
AB       9.3%                7.3%                9.2%               -0.1%
BC       5.4%                8.4%               11.2%              +5.8%

Prevalence of Use

Q1-2018         Q1-2019         Q4-2020         Change since 2018

NL       16.4%              18.5%               19.5%              +3.1%
PEI      14.1%               15.4%              22.3%              +8.2%
NS       20.0%              18.2%              27.3%             +7.3%
NB       14.3%              18.2%              18.2%              +3.9%
QU      10.4%               11.0%              10.6%              +0.2%
ON      13.5%              20.0%              23.1%              +9.6%
MB      16.6%              13.0%              22.4%              +5.8%
SK       15.1%                15.7%              13.9%                -1.2%
AB       16.6%              21.5%              21.7%                +5.1%
BC       17.7%               19.1%             24.8%               +7.1%