Canadian cannabis use among those who are at least 15 years old soared 62 per cent to 14.8 per cent between 2011 and 2017, according to the 2019 World Drug Report, which the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime released on June 26.
The report cited relatively stable cannabis use in the country between 2004 and 2011, when it was 9.1 per cent. The rate then went up incrementally, and started to rise rapidly starting in 2013.
“This is largely a result of a decrease in the perception of risk around cannabis use and of the national debate about legalizing non-medical use of cannabis,” the report said.
Despite the report describing cannabis as the most widely used drug worldwide, only 3.8 per cent of the global population aged between 15 and 64 years old were said to have consumed cannabis at least once in 2017.
That global estimate of about 188 million cannabis consumers in 2017 who were between 15 and 64 years old was relatively flat in percentage terms between 2007 and 2017, after rising from being 3.4 per cent in 1998, according to the report.
Low use in Asia (around two per cent) and India (slightly more than three per cent) helped keep the global percentage figure as low as it is.
The report noted that the U.S. has a similar consumption rate to Canada, with annual cannabis use south of the border increasing to 15.3 per cent in 2017 from 9.9 per cent in 2007.
The report cited Health Canada data that showed that B.C. has the highest rate of cannabis consumption among provinces, with 23.4 per cent of people who are older than 15 years old consuming cannabis in 2017.
That rate towered over other provinces, with Nova Scotia ranking second with 18.8 per cent of its population and Manitoba coming in third with a 15.7 per cent rate.
Only 37 per cent of Canadian cannabis users were said to be using the substance for medical purposes.
“The increase in cannabis use in Canada since 2013 has been more pronounced among adults [aged 20 or older] while it has declined among young people [aged 19 or younger],” the report said.