More Canadians smoking up and buying it from legal sources

(© Can Stock Photo / lifeartpixels)

A new report on cannabis use in Canada shows how many have tried it for the first time, how many smoke daily, and how many think it is okay to drive within two hours of smoking up.

Statistics Canada released the report detailing use in the first quarter of 2019 Thursday.

It said 5.3 million Canadians or 18 per cent over the age of 15 admitted to using cannabis within the past three months. That is an increase from 14 per cent during the same period last year before legal recreational use. In Ontario, one in five residents used in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 14 per cent during that period in 2018.

An increase among men aged 45 to 64 partially explains the rise. It went up to 22 per cent from 16 per cent a year ago, while use among women remained stagnant at 13 per cent.

Some 646,000 people admitted to trying it for the first time, while others had used it in the past but tried it again after abstaining for years. Older users accounted for a third of all people who sampled for the first time.

The percentage of daily users did not change from 2018, but there were more weekly and occasional consumers.

Dozens of people line up for the grand opening of Central Cannabis at 666 Wonderland Rd., April 1, 2019. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Dozens of people line up for the grand opening of Central Cannabis at 666 Wonderland Rd., April 1, 2019. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

The report also showed that more people are buying their cannabis from legal sources. Statistics Canada says 47 per cent of users obtained solely from legitimate sources, like the Ontario Cannabis Store or legal retail marijuana stores, while 38 per cent got it illegally, down from 51 per cent last year. The rest used a mix of legal and illegal sources.

Cannabis use and driving still present a safety concern. The agency said half of Canadians believe it is safe to drive after three hours of using cannabis, but 15 per cent believed it was safe to get behind the wheel less than two hours afterwards. Many of those who drove earlier also said they had been passengers in a vehicle where the driver consumed cannabis within two hours of driving.

More than half a million Canadians also confessed to either using cannabis right before going to work or while on the job. About 27 per cent of those people were daily users.