Skip to Main Content

73% of Canadians Buy from Legal Sources

The number of Canadians who use cannabis has been stable since 2018 and 73% buy from legal sources according to new data on cannabis use released by Health Canada.

Data for the 2023 Canadian Cannabis Survey was collected from May 2 to July 20, 2023. This is the seventh cycle of the survey, which Health Canada has conducted every year since 2017.

Survey Background

The Canadian Cannabis Survey examines aspects of patterns of use, such as the quantities of cannabis consumed; the cannabis market, such as sources of cannabis and pricing; and issues of public safety, such as impaired driving.

The 2023 survey included additional questions related to such issues as:

  • Reporting and occurrence of adverse reactions
  • How people identify legal sources of cannabis
  • Knowledge of requirements for cannabis packaging
  • Assessment of problematic cannabis use

The 2023 survey results are based on online responses from approximately 11,690 respondents aged 16 years of age and older across all provinces and territories.

Key Findings

Key findings from the 2023 Canadian Cannabis Survey include:

  • There was no clear trend for past 12-month cannabis use among youth aged 16-19. In 2023, 43% of youth reported using cannabis at least once in the past 12 months, an increase compared to 2022 and 2018 (which had rates of 37% and 36% respectively). However, this rate was similar to that in 2019 and 2020 (44% each year).
  • Overall, the proportion of respondents who use cannabis and reported daily or almost daily use has been stable since 2018 (approximately 25%), including among youth (approximately 20%).
  • The proportion of Canadians smoking cannabis continued to decline. However, in 2023, smoking remains the most common method of consuming cannabis (63%), followed by eating (52%) and vaporizing with a vape pen or e-cigarette (33%).
  • The number of respondents reporting a legal source as their usual source of cannabis has increased to 73% in 2023 from 37% in 2019 with legal storefronts being the most common source since 2019. A smaller proportion report accessing cannabis through illegal sources compared to 2019.

Other Findings

Starting in 2018, Canadians were asked about the social acceptability of regularly using various substances including cannabis. The perceived social acceptability of all substances was higher in 2023 compared to 2022.

Figure One: Social acceptability of using various products, among all Canadians, 2018 to 2023

 

Social acceptability graph
Source: Health Canada

Identifying Legal Sources

New in 2023, Canadians were asked how they knew if a store or website selling cannabis was legal. For storefronts, 72% reported they did not consume cannabis or did not know how to identify a legal store. This was even higher for websites with 89% saying they do not order cannabis online or did not know how to identify a legal website.

Cannabis Use Demographics

Starting in 2018, Canadians were asked about their cannabis use within the past 12 months. 26% of people 16 years of age and older reported having used cannabis for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months, unchanged from the previous cycle (27%). Past 12-month cannabis use increased over time from 22% in 2018, as shown in Figure Two.

Figure Two: Past 12-month Cannabis Use for Non-Medical Purposes, 2018 to 2023

 

Cannabis Use graph
Source: Health Canada

As in previous years, past 12-month cannabis use for non-medical purposes was highest among 20- to 24-year-olds (48%), unchanged from 2018 and 2022. This was followed by 16 to 19 year-olds (43%), up from both 2018 and 2022 (36% and 37%, respectively), and those 25 years and older (23%), up from 2018 but down from 2022 (19% and 25%, respectively).

Males (29%) reported a higher percentage of cannabis use for non-medical purposes in the past year than females (23%), both up from 2018 (26% and 19%, respectively).

Frequency of Cannabis Use

Canadians who reported using cannabis for non-medical purposes over the past 12 months were asked how frequently they used it. Over half (57%) reported using cannabis three days per month or less, and 15% reported daily cannabis use (as shown in Figure Three).

Compared to the previous cycle in 2022, more people used cannabis two to three days per month, while fewer used three to four days per week or daily. Over the 6-year period, frequency of cannabis use was generally unchanged, with the exception that more people used cannabis five to six days per week and fewer used daily compared to 2018.

Figure Three: Frequency of Cannabis Use for Non-Medical Purposes, 2018 to 2023

 

Frequency of cannabis use graph
Source: Health Canada

Overall, a greater percentage of males (25%) reported daily or almost daily (that is, five or more days per week) use compared to females (20%), who were more likely to report using less than one day per month (40%) compared to males (33%).

Types of Cannabis Products Used

Canadians who used cannabis in the past 12 months were asked about the types of cannabis products they had used in the past 12 months. People could select more than one product. Changes in product use since 2018 are shown in Figure Four.

The three most common product types used in 2023 were dried flower or leaf (60%; down from 2018 and 2022); edible cannabis (54%; up from 2018); and vape pens or cartridges (34%; up from 2018). This was followed by oil for oral use (26%; up from 2019 and 2022); beverages (19%; up from 2018); hashish or kief (16%; down from 2018); topical products (12%; up from 2019 and 2022); and concentrates or extracts (for example, wax, shatter or budder; 11%, down from 2018).

Figure Four: Cannabis Products Used Among People Who Used Cannabis in the Past 12 Months, 2018 to 2023

Cannabis products used graph
Source: Health Canada

People who used cannabis in the past 12 months were also asked about the average amount consumed on a typical day when they used cannabis.

Of those who consumed dried flower or leaf, the average amount used was 0.9 grams (down from 2018 and 2022). Those who used edible cannabis consumed approximately 1.4 servings (up from 2018 and 2022). The average amount of cannabis oil for oral use consumed was 2.3 millilitres (up from 2018 and 2022).

Of those who used each of the following products, the average amount consumed was 0.5 grams of hashish or kief and 0.3 grams of cannabis concentrate or extract. The units used to ask about vape pens and beverages were changed in 2023 so the amounts reported are not comparable to previous years. In 2023, people reported using an average of 10.3 puffs from a vape pen and 1.2 drinks when using beverages.

Cannabis Act Review

The organization says, “The results from the Canadian Cannabis Survey will help Health Canada better understand habits and behaviours relative to cannabis use over time and will support the development of policy and program initiatives, including public education and awareness activities. The data from the survey will also help to inform the legislative review of the Cannabis Act, which is being led by an independent expert panel.”

For full the Canadian Cannabis Survey results please click here.

Tags: Canadian Cannabis (107), cannabis consumer (8), cannabis consumption trends (9), cannabis survey (4), cannabis use (6), Health Canada (64)