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Four Fears Canadians Have about Cannabis Legalization

After a few bumps along the way, cannabis legalization is here. The process didn’t exactly inspire confidence as a scant 12% of Canadians agreed their province was well prepared for legalization. The roll out hasn’t done much to quell fears that many Canadians possess.

Fear #1: There will be an initial spike in cannabis consumption

  • If there was a thought that flipping the switch from illegal to legal would create a bunch of new consumers, it hasn’t happened. The percent of Canadians who reported consuming cannabis in the past year is flat from 20% in April (source: from Dig’s annual cannabis tracking study) to 18% now.
  • There does appear to be some curiosity as 14% of Canadians reported visiting their province’s cannabis store within the first week. Nearly half of those aren’t current consumers of cannabis. That said, less than a quarter (23%) of visitors actually purchased, i.e. 3% of all Canadian adults.

Legal Cannabis Participation infographic.


Fear #2: Legalization is likely to increase consumption long-term

  • Half of Canadians believe more people will consume cannabis post-legalization. This attitude is negatively correlated with support for legalization, i.e. the more likely someone is to think that consumption is going up, the more likely they are to disapprove of legalization.
  • There’s a small portion – 6% of Canadians – that are planning on trying it post-legalization. Compared to alcohol, which nearly 3-in-4 Canadians have consumed alcohol in the past year, cannabis doesn’t appear poised to hit that mark anytime soon.

Fear #3: There won’t be enough supply to meet demand

Fear #4: Buyers will experience negative consequences

  • Half of Canadians (53%) think that people who purchase cannabis legally will experience negative consequences such as having issues crossing the US border or having their data stolen/exposed. The fear is felt more by those with no interest in consuming cannabis (57% agree) compared to those who do (45% agree).

The run up to legalization was a rocky road and support declined from 56% of Canadians in April 2017 to 45% currently. If these fears are lessened – either through direct intervention or apathy – Canadians may regain the optimism initially felt.

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