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harm reduction

How People Living in Canada Consume and Acquire Cannabis: Assessing Progress in Minimizing Harms and Establishing a Safe Supply Chain


People’s attitudes and behaviours about cannabis have shifted since it was legalized in 2018. The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) has funded research to examine these changes.

As we approach the three-year legislative review of the Cannabis Act, there is growing interest in understanding the impact legalization has had on consumption patterns, purchasing behaviours and perceptions about cannabis use. How People Living in Canada Consume and Acquire Cannabis, a summary report based on a more extensive analysis of data gathered between 2017 and 2020, is now available.

Key findings include: 

  • People who consume cannabis are shifting away from methods of consumption based on inhalation and towards consumption through oral ingestion.

  • The number of people buying cannabis through legal channels rather than from illegal sources has significantly increased.

  • People purchasing from illegal sources are more likely to be male and less likely to be college or university graduates. They also tend to consume cannabis more frequently and agree more strongly that illegal cannabis is cheaper and of higher quality than legal cannabis, and should not be regulated by the government. 

  • The study found that people are more accepting of the idea of using alcohol and cannabis together. However, their behaviours did not reflect this change, as use of the two drugs together did not increase.

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