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Cannabis Consumers In Canada Continue To Transition To The Regulated Market

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Canada was the second nation to pass a national adult-use legalization measure back in 2018, with only Uruguay preceding Canada in doing so (2013). Yet, unlike Uruguay, Canada allows legal sales to anyone of legal age whereas Uruguay limits it to residents only.

As such, Canada provides the best example for international observers to monitor and see what is working with the nation’s regulated industry and what is not working. With other nations considering legalization, any insight Canada can provide is valuable.

One of the biggest measures of success for legalization is whether or not consumers transition away from the unregulated market into the regulated market. According to a recent study in Canada, that is exactly what is occurring, and at an increasing rate. Below is more information about it via a news release from NORML:

Waterloo, Canada: Canadian cannabis consumers are steadily transitioning from the unregulated market to the legal market, according to data published in the Harm Reduction Journal.

Investigators affiliated with the University of Waterloo, School of Public Health surveyed over 15,000 cannabis consumers regarding where they obtained their products. Researchers evaluated data for the years 2019 to 2021. (Canada instituted licensed retail sales of cannabis products in October 2018.)

Authors reported that the percentage of respondents legally sourcing their cannabis products increased year over year. Respondents were most likely to purchase cannabis-infused drinks, oils, and capsules from the legal marketplace. About 55 percent of respondents said they obtained cannabis flower exclusively from legally licensed retailers.

In 2019, fewer than half of consumers acknowledged obtaining their cannabis products from legal sources. According to separate consumer survey data published last year, that percentage rose to nearly 70 percent in 2020.

“Legal sourcing of cannabis was greater in 2021 than 2020 for all ten cannabis products [surveyed]. In 2021, the percentage of consumers sourcing all their products legally in the past 12 months ranged from 49 percent of solid concentrate consumers in 2021 to 82 percent of cannabis drink consumers,” investigators reported. “Transitioning consumers of all cannabis products into the regulated market is important for public health and safety. Future studies should continue to examine cannabis product sourcing in Canada over time, as well as ways to displace the illegal market for all cannabis products without also promoting the use of high-potency cannabis products.”

Full text of the study, “Legal sourcing of ten cannabis products in the Canadian cannabis market, 2019-2021: A repeat cross-sectional study,” appears in the Harm Reduction Journal.