More Canadians smoking pot than in 1985, says StatsCan

Cannabis consumption has more than doubled among Canadians 15 and older over a  30-year span, according to a new Statistics Canada report.

Trends differ for men and women, and different age groups, Wednesday’s report shows.

The national statistics agency has been trying to compile a picture of marijuana use in Canada as the Liberal government moves ahead with plans to legalize the drug later this year.

For the first time, Statistics Canada compared nine national household population surveys that touched on cannabis use starting in 1985 to get a sense of long-term trends.

It found cannabis use went from 5.6 per cent in 1985 to 12. 3 per cent in 2015.

The report also found that trends differ between young men and women.

Between 2004 and 2015, use remained stable among boys 15 to 17, but decreased in women in the same age group.

Pot use dipped for both men and women slightly older, to age 24, during that same 11-year span, but increased among Canadians 25 and older.

“Understanding past use will help inform future trends of cannabis use following legalization,” said a release from Statistics Canada Wednesday.

The results are based on several national surveys, including the:

  • Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey.
  • Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey.
  • 1985 Health Promotion Survey.

They all asked about past-year cannabis use and had target populations that included youth and adults in every province.

The agency did note that while the nine surveys used can be combined to estimate the evolution of cannabis consumption, they were originally designed for different needs and are not perfectly comparable.

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