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Illegal Cannabis Market in BC Decreasing

A recent study into cannabis use among British Columbians reveals that the number of people in the province purchasing cannabis via illegal means is decreasing.

Commissioned by the BC Cannabis Secretariat, the B.C. Stats study titled Cannabis in British Columbia: Results from the 2021 BC Cannabis Use Survey engaged 25,000 cannabis users, of which 17% admitted to having bought cannabis from unsilenced stores in 2021 – a number that has dropped significantly from 56% in 2018. In addition, the number of people reporting to have purchased their cannabis from ‘dealers’ has also decreased, dropping below single digits from 25% in 2018 to just 9%.

Reasons for the Decrease?

The decrease in the number of BC cannabis users participating in the illicit market represents an encouraging sign for purveyors of cannabis operating in the province. And, the reasons are likely wide ranging, including the rate at which the industry is maturing, the increasing number of cannabis retailers that are now open for business, as well as the quality of product and experience that they provide for customers.

The report found that 32% of adults in British Columbia aged 19 and older stated to have consumed cannabis in one form or another at least once in 2021, representing a substantial increase from 28% in 2018. Despite the perceived increase in the number of British Columbia residents using cannabis, however, the reasons given for their usage is relatively unchanged from 2018, with 24%t of respondents stating that they use cannabis for either medical (24%) or non-medical purposes (37%), or both (39%).

Purpose of Use

According to the stats generated, just over half (52%) of those using cannabis for medical purposes consume it weekly or daily, while just under half (48%) consume it monthly or less often. Nearly one in five (24%) of those who consume cannabis for non-medical purposes report using it daily. And of this group, nearly six in ten (59%) say that they use it more than once per day.

Persistent Negative Stigma

In addition, the report also delves into the negative stigma that persists among the public concerning cannabis use. Despite being legal for more than three years, the report reveals that more than one in five (21%) of British Columbians who use cannabis experience negative judgement from others as a result of their use.

Greater Participation Required

Authors of the report are quick to point out that, although the data generated by the survey is accurate, it may only be as accurate as the responses of participants were honest, meaning that because the results are based on self-reported data, combined with the negative stigma that seems to remain around cannabis use, the results of the survey may be slightly skewed.

However, it’s hoped that there may be an increased willingness to participate in the survey concerning cannabis usage going forward as the substance becomes more socially acceptable. And, the report adds, the significance in continuing to generate and disseminate data in order to support public health and facilitate the success of the industry cannot be overstated.

“While this survey provides meaningful insights into how cannabis legalization may have influenced the lives of people living in British Columbia, these findings only scratch the surface. As the market continues to evolve and stigma around cannabis use slowly fades, there is a need for regular and continued monitoring and evaluation of the public health and safety impacts of cannabis use.”

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