Monday, July 15, 2024

Has 5 years of the Controversial Cannabis Legalization Been Beneficial to Canadians

On October 17, 2023, it will have been five years since cannabis was legalized for non-medical use, production and sale in Canada, making Canada the first major industrialized country to provide legal and regulated access to cannabis for non-medical purposes.

Has 5 years of Cannabis Legalization Been Beneficial to Canadians

Details of The Cannabis Act

  • The Cannabis Act (C-45) came into force on October 17, 2018. The Act legalizes and strictly regulates the production, distribution, sale, import and export, and possession of cannabis for adults of legal age.
  • During the first year of legalization of cannabis for non-medical purposes, legal sales were limited to dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis plants and cannabis seeds. Starting on October 17, 2019, a wider array of products was permitted for legal production and sale, including cannabis extracts, edibles and topicals.
  • The regulation of cannabis remains a shared responsibility of the federal, provincial and territorial governments. Provinces and territories are responsible for regulating cannabis sales and distribution in their jurisdiction. They also have the flexibility to establish more stringent controls, such as further restrictions for personal (home) cultivation, restricting public use and access to some products, or increasing the minimum legal age.

The main objectives of the Act are to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, keep profits out of the pockets of criminals, and protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to a quality-controlled supply of legal cannabis.

To measure the social, health and economic impacts of legalized cannabis, Statistics Canada identified data needs and adapted the national statistical system. This included introducing new surveys, exploring alternative data sources, adding new questions to existing surveys and integrating cannabis into the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts.

Has 5 years of Cannabis Legalization Been Beneficial to Canadians

Cannabis use had been steadily increasing over the 30 years before legalization

The rate of cannabis use more than doubled from 1985 to 2017, from 5.6% to 14.8%.

After legalization, cannabis use is higher

In 2021, 22% of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported using cannabis in the past year. The rates of cannabis use were higher than the rest of Canada in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, whereas those in Quebec remained lower.

Some studies conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic suggested that cannabis consumption may have increased in response to the changed daily routines and related stress. Whether the higher rates of cannabis use reported during the pandemic will continue is yet to be determined, but as daily routines are reinstated and newer data become available, this can be studied.

Cannabis use also differs by age and increases for most age groups

Cannabis use is most common among 18- to 24-year-olds. Use among 15- to 17-year-olds has not increased since legalization.

Canada’s cannabis sector grew from October 2018 to December 2022 but started to decline in 2023

The cannabis sector was valued at $10.8 billion in 2023, an increase from $6.4 billion when cannabis for non-medical purposes was first legalized.