Health Canada released the summary of the annual Canadian Cannabis Survey for 2022. The survey, which began in 2017, looks at aspects of patterns of use, the cannabis market, and issues of public safety.
The survey results are based on 10,045 respondents ages 16 years and older, with data collection happening between April 4 and June 20, 2022.
Who’s Using Cannabis in Canada
27% of those 16 years of age and older reported having used cannabis in the past 12 months, up 2% from the previous cycle, although provincial/territorial estimates range from 18%-41%.
Cannabis use is highest among 20-24 year olds (50%), followed by those 16-19 years old (37%), with those 25+ being the lowest group of consumers at 25%, yet this group’s use is up from the previous cycle. The average age of starting cannabis use was 20.5 years.
Those who identified as males reported a higher percentage of cannabis use in the past year than females at 30% and 25%, respectively, with this gap closing 2% since the previous year.
Cannabis use in the past 12 months was higher among those who were born in Canada than those who were not born in Canada, at 31% and 16% respectively, similar to the previous cycle.
As for the main activity indicated by respondents in the week prior to the survey, 34% of those who used cannabis in the past 12 months indicated “going to school” as their main activity compared to 27% of those who did something other than “going to school”. Those who work at a job or business accounted for 31% of those who used cannabis in the last 12 months compared to the 22% who indicated they do not work at a job or business.
20% of those with a post-graduate degree/diploma have used cannabis in the past 12 months compared to 29% of those who have a high school diploma or less as their highest level of education.
Why People are Using Cannabis
13% of Canadians aged 16 years and older indicated that they used cannabis for medical purposes, yet 27% of those who are using it for medical purposes are doing so with a medical doctor’s documentation compared to 73% who are not.
Those who used cannabis for medical purposes were invited to complete another survey section detailing their medical use. This survey section revealed that 45% of those who are using cannabis for medical purposes are obtaining it from a legal retail storefront, compared to 17% saying they obtained it from a legal online medical source.
Whether or not they had used cannabis over the past 12 months, the majority of those surveyed believed that cannabis smoke can be harmful, that daily or almost daily cannabis use can increase the risk of mental health problems, and that teenagers are at greater risk of harm from cannabis use than adults. People who had used cannabis were less likely to believe that daily or almost daily cannabis use can increase the risk of mental health problems.
Interestingly, when self-reporting mental health, those reporting past 12-month cannabis use increases as mental health ratings decrease, with 17% who’d used cannabis over the period reporting their mental health as “excellent” and 51% indicating their mental health to be poor on a 5-point Likert scale.
How Canadians Are Using Cannabis
Over half (52%) of those who reported using cannabis over the past 12 months say they use it 3 days per month or less, with 18% using it daily. Daily use is greater among males than females, most notably in the 25+ age group.
Those who had used cannabis in the past 12 months indicated their preferred method of consumption and could choose more than one method. Smoking was most common (70%), followed by eating it in food (52%), vaporizing from a pen (31%), ingesting cannabis oil (18%), drinking it (16%), vaporizing from a vaporizer (10%), applying to skin (7%), and dabbing (6%). Smoking, using oil, and applying to skin decreased from 2021; using a vape pen increased, while the remaining methods remained unchanged.
Those who vaped in the past 12 months indicated the most common product vaped was liquid oils/extracts (74%), followed by dried flower/leaf (49%), and solid extracts (21%). Use of liquid oils/extracts increased, while vaping flower/leaf decreased.
The most commonly used products of 2022 in descending order were dried flower/leaf, cannabis edible products, vape pens/cartridges, beverages, oil for oral use, and hashish/kief and respondents were able to indicate more than one product used over the past 12 months.
While 17% indicated they don’t know the relative levels of THC and CBD in the products they buy, 31% indicated products were higher in THC than CBD, 13% were higher in CBD than THC, 12% were balanced, and 8% chose THC only products.
14% of those who used cannabis in the past 12 months (and 6% overall) had cultivated their own, with 20% of these growers indicating they held a Health Canada authorization to grow cannabis for medical purposes. 18% of those who have cultivated their own in the past 12 months have prepared their own edibles.
How Much Did People Pay?
People who used cannabis in the past 12 months indicated that they typically spend close to $65 on cannabis products each month.
Where Canadians are Getting Cannabis
In terms of where Canadians are getting cannabis on a regular basis, 61% indicated they’re getting it from a legal storefront, up from 53% in 2021. Getting cannabis from a friend or an online retailer were tied at 11%, while illegal storefronts and websites accounted both accounted for 2% of people’s usual sources.
When asked to rank the factors that influence from whom they obtain cannabis, priority rankings were price (30%), safe supply (23%), and quality (12%).
Impact of the Pandemic on Cannabis Use
Considering the 2021 survey was conducted during the pandemic and it is still ongoing, 53% indicated they use the same amount of cannabis than the prior 12 months, with 24% reporting an increase, and 23% reporting a decrease. The increase was primarily among the younger age groups.
Those who reported an increase in use cited stress, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, and lack of a regular schedule as reasons.
Cannabis More Acceptable Than Tobacco
When the subject of the social acceptability of cannabis was raised, cannabis use is deemed more socially acceptable than smoking tobacco or vaping nicotine, yet less socially acceptable than alcohol.
The social acceptability of eating or vaping cannabis is on the rise, but smoking cannabis hasn’t become any more or less socially acceptable.