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Canadian cannabis users still buying from their dealers post-legalization: Dal study

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Researcher Sylvain Charlebois recently conducted a survey which found 60 per cent of cannabis users are still using the supplier they had before legalization. - 123RF Stock Photo
HALIFAX, N.S. —
Sylvain Charlebois - File
Sylvain Charlebois - File

The availability of cannabis at government-operated outlets hasn’t convinced most users to buy there.

That’s one of the finds of a study conducted by Sylvain Charlebois and a team of researchers at Dalhousie University.

Their survey of more than a thousand people over four days last month shows that 60 per cent of cannabis users are still using the supplier they had before legalization.

“I was shocked by Stats Can’s report ... last week suggesting that perhaps more people are using the legal route to get their cannabis,” Charlebois said. “You don’t see the evidence in our survey, you actually see that price, quality and convenience as being the top factors, which really has compelled most users to stick with their suppliers. We don’t really see how that conversion rate will increase.”

The survey also showed that almost half the people who use cannabis don’t want their co-workers to know.

“If you ask me if there is stigma out there, there is, but it’s not moving, not changing, people feel the same way, and for both industry and government, that’s surprising,” said Charlebois. “Of course, we do expect the needle to move on stigma at some point, but over the last two years it hasn’t.”

Other key observations of the study, which revisited a similar one done in 2017, include the fact that Canadians are worried about children and young adults having access to cannabis-infused edibles. Also, there is overwhelming opposition to having cannabis retailers in residential neighbourhoods, and Canadians are much more likely to consume cannabis edibles in public than to smoke it.

“There’s still a lot of question marks out there and I think that’s the result of Health Canada managing the risk instead of just looking at educating the public from a general perspective,” said Charlebois. “Edibles are going to be complicated, it’s the most discreet way of consuming cannabis and if you don’t do it right, and if you don’t have a population that is well versed in terms of risks, you can get into trouble pretty quickly.”

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