Marijuana Use Rises Amongst Older Canadians, Lowers for Minors

According to a new study by StatsCan, nearly 5 million Canadians consumed cannabis in 2015 — many of them older and more mature consumers.

No, you did not read that wrong. Older Canadians, including senior citizens, are using marijuana more while fewer minors indulge. This comes from a new study by Statistics Canada that demonstrates the potential for the $5B dollar cannabis industry. What was once a “youth-driven” market in the 60’s and 70’s, now shifts towards a more updated narrative on marijuana use.

In fact, nearly five million Canadians consumed marijuana in 2015. The federal statistics agency report outlines that during that time, less than six percent of cannabis consumers fell within the 15-17-year-old age range, compared to two-thirds of consumers who were 25 years old or older. StatsCan Analyst Michelle Rotermann said,

“This study and others have shown recently that use of cannabis among youth has either remained stable or has declined whereas use among older individuals has increased.”

Fluctuating Rates of Marijuana Use Amongst Youth

The number of youth who consume marijuana hit the lowest point in decades in 2015, but marijuana use fluctuations are a recurring theme. In 1980 an estimated 22 percent of users aged 15-17 consumed cannabis. That number fell to 12 percent by 2000, and by 2015, only 5.7 percent of marijuana users were in that age range. Even other data from Stats Canada shows marijuana use fluctuations amongst youth over decades. For example, consumption rose in the 1970s, then began declining in the late 1980s and 90s.

marijuana use
Young and old smoke marijuana at Yonge and Dundas Square in Toronto Ontario. Via The Toronto Star

Baby Boomers, Big Consumers

According to the report, the Candian baby boomer cohort was exposed to cannabis in high school and university. As they aged, they carried their affinity for the plant with them. These ideologies replaced the war generation’s, which had a harsher view of cannabis. This, in turn, led to more widespread and open use of the cannabis amongst baby boomers.

“The compositional change in the cannabis market is consistent with a change where the baby boomer cohort was exposed to cannabis in high school and university, and carried a preference for cannabis consumption with them as they aged.”

Senior citizens aged 65 and older are also using more cannabis. Many of whom, are likely medicinal patients. In addition, CAMH reports the percentage of Ontarians over 50 who used weed in the last year has nearly tripled over the last decade. However, there is no systematic process in place to measure marijuana consumption and divide medical and recreational. Early studies rely on several data sources and Stats Canada consumer habit surveys.

The Liberal Government’s plan from the beginning outlined a clear goal: to reduce profits for criminals and remove cannabis access for minors. With current laws failing to remove cannabis access for kids, it seems the move towards legalization has had an impact on that goal.