A survey conducted in 2020 by the Commonwealth Fund found that 23.1% of Canadians have used cannabis in the last year, significantly more than any other countries surveyed.
In the survey, the Common Wealth Fund investigated consumption patterns of substances including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and illicit drugs among 11 countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, France, the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany. All participants were aged 18 and above.
In particular, they found that while just 9% of people from all the countries combined used cannabis in the last year, the same figure stood at 23.1% for Canada, and as high as 41.5% for northern Canadian territory, Nunavut. The US came second amongst the countries surveyed for cannabis usage at 15.7%, followed by Australia at 9.5% and New Zealand at 9.1%. Sweden had the lowest cannabis usage at just 2.9%.
The disparity between cannabis usage rates may be explained by the fact that Canada was the only country surveyed in which cannabis is legal for recreational use at a national level. The same is true for some states in the US, perhaps explaining its position in second place.
“The Commonwealth Fund’s survey provides an important baseline for substance use in Canada,” says Rita Notarandrea, CEO of the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have seen some of these numbers increase — especially for those with mental health and substance use concerns. With further lockdowns happening throughout the country, this is something we need to be mindful of as we work to reduce overall health harms in Canada.”
The survey also found that a quarter of Canadians reported heavy drinking at least once per month and that just 9% of them discussed their heavy drinking with a healthcare provider. Meanwhile, 5% of Canadians reported having used an electronic vaping device within the last year.