British Columbia survey finds cannabis-user support for consumption spaces

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The government of British Columbia found overall support for adult-use marijuana consumption spaces among cannabis users and businesses in a 2022 public consultation – while nonusers and “some public health and safety organizations (and) local governments” expressed opposition.

The B.C. government “is now considering whether cannabis consumption spaces should be permitted,” according to a report released Tuesday.

Among random phone survey respondents interviewed in April and May 2022, 61% supported consumption spaces.

Of the 730 telephone survey respondents, 35% had used cannabis at least once in the past year.

However, a separate online survey produced different results.

It found that only 34% of online respondents supported consumption spaces – a difference the B.C. government attributed to potential self-selection bias in the online survey “from people who feel strongly either for or against cannabis consumption spaces.”

There were 15,362 online survey respondents, 30% of whom used cannabis in the past year.

“Most people who use cannabis were in support of consumption spaces, as were cannabis retailers, producers, and industry associations who provided written submissions,” the government report noted.

“In contrast, consumption spaces were generally not supported by people who do not use cannabis and from some public health and safety organizations or local governments who provided written submissions.”

The B.C. government estimates that 1.4 million British Columbians used cannabis at least once in a 12-month period and reckons “there may be at least 750,000 people in B.C. who are interested in visiting a cannabis consumption space at least once.”

Indoor smoking or vaping will not be allowed in any potential B.C. consumption spaces, the provincial government said.

“Health and safety are our utmost priorities as we consider how provincial cannabis policies could evolve,” B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said in a statement.

Brittny Anderson, a provincial legislator and parliamentary secretary for tourism, said that “exploring the feasibility of cannabis-consumption spaces is another way B.C. is working to support the success of the industry.”

She added: “With the recent introduction of a license for farm-gate sales, understanding public opinion on cannabis-related hospitality and agri-tourism activities is a practical next step.”

The B.C. government held the consultation in response to cannabis businesses’ feedback that “consumption spaces could provide an opportunity for the sector to become more economically viable and could better meet the interests of people who use cannabis.”

British Columbia was Canada’s third-largest market for regulated adult-use cannabis in October 2022, with retail sales valued at 57.5 million Canadian dollars ($42.8 million).