When Canada made the bold decision to legalize adult-use cannabis last year, critics argued that widespread legalization would increase teen pot use. One year into legalization, statistics have proved that these fears were unfounded.
One Canadian demographic is actually smoking way more weed than they did before legalization, however. Canadians aged 65 and older are the country's fastest-growing demographic of cannabis consumers, according to new data from Statistics Canada, the country's national statistics agency. Back in 2012, only one percent of all Canadian seniors (around 40,000 people) admitted to using weed. This year, estimates show that number has increased tenfold, to 400,000 seniors.
The report also found that many of these seniors are trying cannabis for the first time. “While 10 percent of cannabis consumers aged 25 to 44 were new users in the second and third quarters of 2019,” Statistics Canada wrote, “more than one-quarter [27 percent] of cannabis consumers aged 65 and older” tried pot for the first time over the last three months.
Although their numbers are growing, only a small percentage of seniors actually use cannabis. In the past three months, only 7 percent of those over 65 reported cannabis use, compared to 10 percent of Canadians aged 45 to 65. The popularity of weed seems to increase as age decreases, with 25 percent of people aged 25 to 44 and 26 percent of people aged 15 to 24 owning up to weed use.
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The analysis also found that seniors' approach to weed is distinctly different than younger demographics. For one, seniors were less likely to report using cannabis daily than people under 65. Seniors were also more likely to use cannabis solely for medical use. Over half (52 percent) of all seniors reported using pot exclusively for medical purposes, compared to 24 percent who use it recreationally and 24 percent who use it for both reasons.
Seniors are also more likely to buy their weed from legal sources, with only 23 percent of those over 65 reporting that they bought their pot on the black market. In contrast, 39 percent of adults between 45- to 64-years-old, 43 percent of those between 25- and 44-years-old, and 52 percent of people aged 15 to 24-years-old all said they bought illegal weed. Only 8 percent of all Canadians, regardless of age, said that they grew their own weed.
Between mid-August and mid-September this year, around 17 percent of all Canadians — 5.2 million people — reported using pot. Broken down by individual provinces, analysts found that weed was most popular in Nova Scotia, where a third of all residents smoked up. Weed was also more popular than the national average in Prince Edward Island (26 percent), Newfoundland, Labrador, and New Brunswick (all 24 percent).
Out of the entire Great White North, weed is least popular in Quebec, with only 11 percent of residents using cannabis — which makes sense, sadly, given that the province has the strictest cannabis regulations in the country.