Canada and the Cannabis Stigma

In its second year of legalization, the Canadian cannabis space has been met with variable markets, Covid-19, and the unshakeable cannabis stigma. Although many had high hopes that legalization would equal normalization, the truth is that cannabis is not entirely socially acceptable, yet. Even with the recent legalization of edibles and infused goods allowing cannabis to take up more of the market, a cloud continues to hang over the community. This week, we’re exploring where Canadians stand on cannabis and how education may factor into that. Let’s dive deeper into the cannabis stigma in Canada.

Social Acceptability of Cannabis in Canada

Health Canada has been conducting its survey to find out what Canadians are buying and using, as well as how they view cannabis since 2017. In 2019, the survey found that 55% of participants viewed alcohol as socially acceptable while 44% viewed smoking non-medical cannabis the same way. These numbers were followed by 43% for eating cannabis and 42% for vaping cannabis both for non-medical reasons. Participants who had consumed cannabis within the last year were far more likely to view it as socially acceptable than those who had not. Although there isn’t a huge disparity in the numbers, it’s clear that cannabis remains less socially acceptable than alcohol.

Canadians’ Willingness to Open Up About Cannabis

Recreational cannabis is legal to use for those aged 19 years and older, but not everyone wants to broadcast their usage. When surveyed, only 34% of Canadians said they were more willing to share their usage after legalization. A notable 21% insisted they were previously willing, but 23% of participants stated they were not more willing to open up about using cannabis after legalization. For some Canadians, especially mothers, the worry of ‘coming out’ as a cannabis user makes them fear for their job security. However, there are groups of people across Canada joining together to share their stories and fight the cannabis stigma.

Perceptions of the Health Effects of Cannabis

The health benefits of cannabis are what lead many to begin medicating with the plant in the first place . Nonetheless, an overwhelming 76% of survey participants reported believing that cannabis smoke can be harmful. Furthermore, 75% said that they felt that frequent cannabis use could increase the risk of mental health issues. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse conducted a survey in April of last year to learn more about the youth perceptions of cannabis. It was there that the CCSA connected these negative health perceptions of cannabis to the cannabis stigma and the fear of negative labels.

The Role of Cannabis Education

Figures from these government surveys show that there is still much work to be done in terms of educating Canadians about cannabis. Consider that 47% of Canadians weren’t aware that employees with medical authorization can consume cannabis at work. An anonymous survey from Responsible Cannabis Use (RCU) found that 80% of 15,000 employees admitted to being interested in learning more about cannabis in the workplace. Learning more about cannabis in the workplace would be a step towards minimizing the cannabis stigma. Still, for the moment, the best place for people to educate themselves about cannabis is at the point of sale, be it online or in-store.

Time to Enjoy

Although cannabis is completely legal in Canada, there is still a long way to go to normalize and eliminate the cannabis stigma. If you’re interested in learning more about members of the Canadian cannabis space, explore our blog for spotlights on members of the community. For more cannabis education, follow us on Instagram. Those looking for recommendations on cannabis gear should learn about the centuries-old hemp wick for a longer-lasting smoke session. You can even upgrade your next sesh with our functional, rugged, and timeless pipe, The Brockton Mk2.