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1 in 4 Canadians would order a cannabis dish at a restaurant: Dalhousie report


Halifax – Canadians are showing increased support for cannabis legalization but they remain cautious towards edibles, says a new report from the Dalhousie University Agri-Food Analytics Lab.

The study suggests Canadians are less eager for edibles than they said they were prior to legalization. However, support for cannabis legalization has risen to nearly 80 percent.

“Perceptions of Canadian Consumers: Cannabis & Edibles – A New Assessment” by Brian Sterling, research associate, and Sylvain Charlebois, senior director, at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab, compares Canadian attitudes toward cannabis products with previous studies conducted in 2017 (prior to legalization) and in 2019.

Here are highlights of the report:

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Do Canadians embrace edibles?

“We were intrigued that Canadians seem to be less enthusiastic about edibles since cannabis became legal,” Charlebois said. “25 per cent of cannabis consumers say they typically prefer edibles, down from 36 per cent in 2019.” The report says nearly one in four Canadians would order a cannabis dish at a restaurant: steady at 24 per cent (compared to 25 per cent in 2019).

“The results show 53 per cent of Canadians are concerned that cannabis edibles may make it too easy to overconsume – this is high but a notable decrease from 60 per cent in 2019”, said Sterling, the principal investigator for the report. “Meanwhile, concern remains steady that greater access to edibles poses a risk to children and pets (66 per cent are concerned with the risk for children; 60 per cent for pets). These levels are consistent with our previous studies; Canadians remain cautious about the risks with edibles.”

The report says nearly one in four Canadians would order a cannabis dish at a restaurant.

Edibles attract people who are not interested in smoking: 14 per cent of respondents indicated that they plan to consume more cannabis edibles in future. A similar portion say that they have increased cannabis consumption (in all formats) since the start of the COVID19 pandemic. Confections, such as gummies and hard candy, are the first choice for edibles by a wide margin (35 per cent of cannabis consumers). Chocolates are the second popular choice; beverages are preferred by only four per cent.

Have Canadian attitudes towards cannabis use changed?

Support for legalization has surged to over 78 per cent of respondents (up from 49 per cent in 2019), placing Canadians’ cannabis approval levels above those in some U.S. states. Disagreement with legalization has decreased to 14 per cent (from 30 per cent in the previous study). While 65 per cent of Canadians say they do not mind if restaurants put edibles on their menus, the portion of “canna-curious” has dropped to 13 per cent from 26 per cent.

When considering social stigma, Sterling noted an overwhelming 56 per cent of respondents now say that towns and cities should not be permitted to ban cannabis retailers within their municipal boundaries – almost a complete reversal of responses prior to legalization. The data also clearly show that fewer Canadians are self-stigmatizing, with 57 per cent saying they are not concerned about others knowing they consume cannabis recreationally. The same portion says they are not concerned about co-workers who do so.

The proportion of Canadians who buy only from legal sources has almost doubled to 60 per cent from 38 per cent in 2019. Roughly 37 per cent say they at least occasionally purchase cannabis from their ‘legacy sources’ – a substantial drop from the 60 per cent reported in 2019.

Has legalization changed Canadian’s consumption habits?

55 per cent of Canadians say that they now use cannabis or considering it; about 12 per cent indicate they started only after legalization (twice the six per cent level in 2019). From the survey, 24 per cent of Canadians say they use cannabis mainly for recreational purposes; 10 per cent reported that they take it medically, with 11 per cent for health and wellness lifestyle reasons.

The study shows that 45 per cent of cannabis consumers still typically buy dried flower. Oil/tinctures are the preference for 22 per cent. Vape cartridges comprise about seven per cent of first choices.

The study was conducted in May 2021 and surveyed 1,047 people across Canada, in both English and French.