Fewer British Columbia cannabis users buying from illicit stores, survey shows

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Significantly fewer cannabis consumers in the Canadian province of British Columbia report buying marijuana from unlicensed stores since legalization, according to a new survey.

The provincial cannabis survey of 24,974 British Columbians, released Tuesday by B.C’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, was conducted in four languages from August to October 2021.

The findings were compared to a June-August 2018 survey, before Canada legalized adult-use marijuana in October 2018.

The new survey found that 71% of consumers said they had purchased from a licensed store.

In 2021, 17% of cannabis-using respondents reported buying from unlicensed stores, down from 56% before legalization.

Fewer B.C. cannabis users reported buying from a dealer as well, from 16% before legalization to 9% afterward.

However, the proportion of people who reported buying cannabis from an illicit website increased from 1% to 9%.

The survey also found a decrease in respondents’ reports of driving after using cannabis, and a 4-percentage-point increase in the overall rate of adult cannabis use to 32%.

“Findings from this survey did not suggest there have been sharp increases in heavy cannabis use, cannabis-impaired driving, or other potentially risky behaviors since legalization,” the survey noted.

The government survey included respondents 19 and older, and nearly 8,500 said they had used cannabis in the past year.

Of that cannabis-using cohort, 2,420 completed an extra online survey.

The survey’s findings can be explored in detail using an interactive online tool.

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B.C. has issued 436 cannabis retail licenses to date.

The province’s legal adult-use cannabis market is Canada’s third-largest and had sales of 55 million Canadian dollars ($42.8 million) in May.