Nearly all of the available evidence counters the main arguments of the cannabis legalization opponents in Canada. In most cases, the opponents frequently argue that increased access to legal marijuana may increase the rates of use and addiction. They say that adolescents and young adults are most likely to become addicts.
But, a recent report from Statistics Canada gives new evidence that indicates most of these fears are unfounded. In general, the use of marijuana increased slightly in the country after nationwide legalization. The last 3-month use surged from 14.9% in 2018 to 16.8% in 2019. Also, daily use increased from 5.9% to 6%.
Interestingly, the whole story is quite complicated. The use of marijuana increased for all age groups except the adolescents. The prevalence of past 3-month use among people between 15 years and 17 years fell drastically from 19.8% to 10.4%, which is almost a 50% reduction. The use of cannabis for people between 18 and 24 fell slightly from 10.3% pre-legalization to 10.0% post-legalization.
Alcohol and marijuana
Also, early data is reassuring. As the marijuana use rates rise, heavy drinking is in a steady decline. That comes with substantial evidence that alcohol and cannabis are substitutes. Statistics Canada reports a 2.1% decline in heavy drinking with the most significant impact recorded among those 18–34 years old between 2017 and 2018.
The fears that people who consume marijuana might drive under the influence than those who take alcohol is again unfounded. After the legalization, self-reported driving within two hours of consuming marijuana has declined by 7%. People who reported that they were passengers in a vehicle driven by someone who had consumed any cannabis products declined by 21%.
Notably, in the year following marijuana legalization, the number of people reporting that they obtained drugs from legal sources tripled. Thus, there was a significant shift from illegal to legal market accounting for reduced criminal activities, which is excellent news for the society at large.
Almost all of the available evidence counters the main arguments projected by the opponents. Thus, everyone is hopeful that in the end, reason will prevail.