When Canada legalized recreational cannabis last year, it set precedent by becoming the first first-world country to do so. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got to keep his campaign promise of passing pro-pot legislation as the country made global news. In Canada’s much-publicized celebrations, more than one person swapped the maple leaf in the country’s flag for that of the cannabis plant.
Fast forward one year: Trudeau is struggling in national polls, and Canadian support for marijuana may also be slipping. At least according to a new study from Dalhousie University. Titled “Edibles and Canadian consumers’ willingness to consider recreational cannabis in food or beverage products: A second assessment,” it contrasts Canadian attitudes toward cannabis with those from 2017, before legalization.
The study took place over four days in April this year. In total it surveyed 1,051 people across the country (including Québec). Results were compared with a similar poll conducted in 2017. The response indicates a cooling off of support after the initial fervor that led up to and followed Canada’s trend-setting legalization.
Support for legalization has declined. 49% of respondents said they were in favor, compared with 68% in 2017. Those who reported concerns about legalization has increased by 7% since 2017.
56% answered that cannabis retail facilities should not be in residential areas.
While 37% of respondents said that they consume cannabis, only 6% have started since legalization. Meanwhile, 42% have not used pot and do not plan to do so.
Perhaps most troubling is that 60% of people polled reported that they continue buying cannabis from the same supplier as before legalization, due to largely to the quality, price and convenience. That means the Canadian black market remains alive and well, going against one of the chief goals of national legalization.
Support for cannabis edibles, a focus for the study, has also decreased. This comes in advance of the planned legalization of edibles in Canada, legislation that rolls out in October 2019.
36% of respondents said that they would buy cannabis food products, a number that’s down from 46% in 2017. 26% responded that they would order edibles at a restaurant, which slipped from 39% in 2017.
“With cannabis edibles being legalized in October, we are frankly curious about the decrease in interest expressed by survey respondents,” says Brian Sterling, one of the report’s co-authors. “We would like to understand that shift. It will be interesting to see how this perspective evolves as cannabis and infused products become more commonplace.”
60% of respondents were concerned that cannabis edibles are a risk for overconsumption. Fear that edibles pose a greater risk to kids and pets remains high: 64% were concerned with the danger for children, and 54% for pets.
However, edibles also represented a potential gain for cannabis. 20% of the people polled responded that although they did not use cannabis currently, they might consider edibles once legalized. And 65% of people believed that edibles were a “discreet form of recreational cannabis use.”
One other bit of positive news for cannabis: more Canadians now see pot as a healthy ingredient: 19%, up from 13% in 2017.