Health Canada releases new data on cannabis use in Canada

News release

The 2021 Canadian Cannabis Survey provides insights into Canadians' knowledge, attitudes and behaviours on cannabis use

December 23, 2021                Ottawa, ON                 Health Canada

The Government of Canada takes a public health approach to cannabis regulation, which includes collecting data to better understand how Canadians view and use cannabis.

Today, Health Canada published the results of its 2021 Canadian Cannabis Survey (CCS). Health Canada has conducted the Canadian Cannabis Survey every year since 2017. This is the fifth cycle of the survey. Data for the 2021 survey was collected from April to June 2021.

Results of the Canadian Cannabis Survey will be used to evaluate the impact of the Cannabis Act; inform policy and program development; and to advance effective public education and awareness activities. This important survey complements Health Canada’s other national substance use surveys, including the Canadian Alcohol and Drugs Survey and the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey.

Key findings from the 2021 Canadian Cannabis Survey:

  • Seven in ten Canadians feel they have access to trustworthy information to make informed decisions about their cannabis use. This increases to almost nine in ten among people who used cannabis in the past 12 months.
  • Frequency of daily or almost daily cannabis use among Canadians aged 16 and older who reported use of cannabis in the past 12 months remained virtually unchanged between 2020 (25%) and 2021 (26%). Daily or almost daily use was also unchanged among 16 to 19 year olds (21% vs. 19%) and increased among 20 to 24 year olds (23% in 2020 to 29% in 2021).
  • The percentage of Canadians 16 years of age and older who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months decreased from 27% in 2020 to 25% in 2021.
  • Smoking remains the most common method of consuming cannabis, but it has declined, while vapourizing using a vape pen, drinking, and applying to skin have increased since 2020.
  • More than half of those who use cannabis choose to obtain it through a legal source. Fifty-three percent reported a legal storefront as their usual source, an increase from 41% in 2020, whereas 11% reported obtaining cannabis from a legal online source.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had some impacts on cannabis use. People who used cannabis in the past 12 months were asked if their cannabis use had changed due the pandemic—49% reported using the same amount of cannabis, a decrease from 56% in 2020, while 29% reported using more (an increase from 22% in 2020) and 22% (unchanged from 2020) reported using less.
  • Changes in amount of cannabis used due to COVID-19 seemed to primarily affect younger age groups. Twenty-five percent (25%) of people 25 years and older reported using more cannabis, compared to 46% of those aged 16 to 19 years and 40% aged 20 to 24 years.
  • Driving after cannabis use in the past 12 months (16%) has decreased among those who reported past 12-month cannabis use, as compared to 2020 results (19%).

Quick facts

  • The 2021 CCS results are based on online responses from more than 10,000 respondents aged 16 years of age and older from each province and territory.

  • Data was collected across five themes:

    • knowledge, attitudes and behaviours;
    • cannabis use and products used;
    • sources of cannabis and purchasing patterns
    • driving and cannabis use; and,
    • cannabis for medical purposes.
  •  The 2021 survey collected new data on the following topics:

    •  exposure to Health Canada’s Cannabis Consumer Information Sheet;
    • home growing of cannabis plants inside and outside the home;
    • knowledge about potential harms from the use of cannabis topicals;
    • knowledge on when it is safe to drive after ingesting (eating/drinking) cannabis; and,
    • cannabis use in the context of Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

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