One in Six (16%) Cannabis Users Say They’ve Been Shamed for Consuming in Public, but Most (59%) Users Say They’ve Only Consumed Cannabis in Private

Only One in Three (35%) Canadians Have Noticed an Increase in the Public Consumption of Cannabis

The author(s)
  • Jennifer McLeod Macey Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, Ontario, November 19, 2018 — Since the consumption of cannabis has been legalized in Canada, one in six (16%) cannabis users say they’ve consumed in a public place and have been chastised for doing so, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News.

In fact, among the 90% of cannabis users who say they’ve consumed since legalization, men (23%) are way more likely than women (4%) to say they’ve used cannabis in public and people have tried to make them feel like they were doing something wrong. Similarly, those under 35 (24%) are considerably more likely than consumers aged 35-54 (9%) or 55+ (5%) to say that this has been their experience.

Another 25% say they’ve consumed in public without incident (meaning 41% in total have consumed in a public place), but the majority (59%) of cannabis users say that since the legalization of recreational cannabis they have only consumed in private. Women (80%) are nearly twice as likely as men (48%) to say they’ve limited their consumption to private locations, as are Boomers (89%) when compared to Gen Xers (63%) or Millennials (47%) -- the majority of whom who are users have indeed consumed in public (53%).

With most saying they’ve only consumed in private, it’s interesting to note that only one in three (35%) Canadians agrees (12% strongly/23% somewhat) that since the legalization of recreational cannabis, they have encountered more people consuming cannabis in public. Two in three (65%) disagree that they’ve noticed an increase in public cannabis consumption, suggesting that not much has changed since legalization. Moreover, only one in four (23%) agree (10% strongly/13% somewhat) that they’ve had to tell someone not to smoke it near them.

Two in ten (22%) Say they Use Cannabis (Unchanged from Pre-Legalization), but Four in Ten (43%) Interested in Trying Small-Dose Edible Products

Two in ten (22%) Canadians would currently describe themselves as a cannabis user, led by men (27%) more than women (16%), and Millennials (38%) over Gen Xers (22%) and Boomers (10%). Interestingly, three in ten (28%) parents with kids under 18 say they consume cannabis.

By comparison, a poll conducted for Global News in the lead up to legalization found that 21% of Canadians said they consumed cannabis, meaning that legalization has not yet had a significant impact on the landscape of cannabis usage in Canada.

For half (49%) of consumers, their purpose for consumption is both for recreational/social purposes and for medical reasons. Four in ten (38%) users consume cannabis solely for recreational/social purposes, while 12% say they consume solely for medical reasons, which skews more heavily towards older Canadians.

While the cannabis market currently only represents about one-fifth of Canadians, the poll shows that it has the potential to double: four in ten (43%) agree (18% strongly/24% somewhat) that they are interested in being able to legally purchase small dose edible cannabis products. Interest is, once again, higher among men (49%) than women (37%), and Millennials (59%) when compared to Gen Xers (45%) and Boomers (29%).

However, price could be a mitigating factor, as a majority (54%) of Canadians – including 67% of those interested in trying a small-dose edible – agree that the cost of legalized cannabis is too high.

Four in Ten (42%) Disagree that Cannabis has been Easy to Purchase since Legalization, But Only 16% Cannabis Shoppers Unable to Purchase due to Shortage

Despite being legalized, four in ten (42%) cannabis users disagree (16% strongly/27% somewhat) that since recreational cannabis has been legalized it has been easy to purchase. Conversely, 58% say it has been easy (23% strongly agree/35% somewhat agree).

Seven in ten (72%) users have tried to purchase or did purchase cannabis since legalization, but where they’re getting cannabis varies widely: one in three (35%) are continuing to purchase from the same place as before legalization; three in ten (30%) used online government-run websites; three in ten (27%) have used government-run stores; 22% have visited licensed privately-run stores; and 16% have shopped at a licensed privately-run website (16%). But one in six (16%) cannabis shoppers say they have been unable to purchase cannabis due to a shortage in product. It appears that cannabis consumers are set in their ways, and are likely to continue using the same place as they have in the last month to make their cannabis purchases: the same place as before legalization (34%), government-run stores (28%), online government-run websites (28%), licensed private-run stores (26%) and licensed online private-run websites (17%). One in ten (13%) cannabis consumers doesn’t know where they plan to purchase their cannabis in the future, staying open to different possibilities.

Among those who have made a successful purchase from a licensed retailer:

  • 83% agree (42% strongly/41% somewhat) that they were satisfied with the overall experience of purchasing cannabis.
  • 85% agree (43% strongly/42% somewhat) that they were satisfied with the overall quality of cannabis that they purchased.
  • 86% agree (42% strongly/43% somewhat) that they were happy with the amount of product information provided with their legal recreational cannabis purchase.
  • 74% agree (37% strongly/38% somewhat) that they were satisfied with the delivery timeframe of their online purchase.
  • 86% agree (53% strongly/33% somewhat) that they were asked for identification before they could complete their transaction, including 87% of those under the age of 35.

The implication of a product shortage among licensed retailers is that it could perpetuate the grey market. Among those respondents who were not able to make a successful legal purchase due to shortage, 88% agree (54% strongly/33% somewhat) that if there is a shortage of cannabis in government-run, private or online outlets, they’ll go to a dealer or another source they know of.

The Implications of Cannabis Legalization on Alcohol Consumption, Impaired Driving and Border Crossings

In the early days of cannabis legalization, we’re still trying to understand the implications of legalization on a wide variety of things, from alcohol consumption to impaired driving to border crossings. The following data give a glimpse into how legalization could impact other facets of life:
Impaired Driving

  • Nine in ten (93%) cannabis users agree (68% strongly/25% somewhat) that they are confident that they can judge whether or not they’ve consumed too much cannabis before attempting to operate a car.
  • Only 64% of Canadians agree (25% strongly/39% somewhat) that they are confident in their ability to detect when someone has consumed too much cannabis to drive safely.

Border Crossings

  • Six in ten (57%) cannabis users agree (23% strongly/34% somewhat) that they are worried about their ability to cross the U.S. border because they consume marijuana legally in Canada. This is particularly true among men (62%) and Millennials (68%).

Alcohol Consumption

  • Nearly half (45%) of cannabis users agree (19% strongly/26% somewhat) that they think they will drink less alcohol now that they can consume cannabis legally. Once again, men (52%) are significantly more likely than women (34%) to say so, as are Millennials (55%) when compared to Gen Xers (39%) and Boomers (33%).

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos survey conducted between November 1st to 6th, 2018, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a random sample of 2,402 Canadians aged 18+ were interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online surveys is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the survey is accurate to within ±2.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian residents over the age of 18 been surveyed. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Jennifer McLeod Macey

Vice President, Ipsos Canada

+1 416 324 2108

[email protected]


About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.

With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management. Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,780.5 million in 2017.

The author(s)
  • Jennifer McLeod Macey Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs