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What People Think about Cannabis

​​​​​​​​​​​​​After alcohol, cannabis is the most commonly used substance in Canada. There is much conflicting information and many different opinions about the benefits, harms and acceptability of cannabis use. The following lists summarize the perceptions about cannabis among the general population and among youth.

Nanos Poll Results

62% of Canadians have no interest in consuming cannabis when it is legal even though six in 10 Canadians admit they have tried it.

This is just one of the interesting insights the Canadian public shared with us in a recent Nanos poll commissioned by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.  

With cannabis becoming legal, we wanted to get a snapshot of how the Canadian public is thinking. Surveying 1,000 Canadians between September 29 and October 4, 2018, we asked a series of questions about their thoughts on cannabis including: ​

  • What are you most concerned about when it comes to cannabis legislation?

  • Should schools be playing a role in educating children about cannabis use?​

  • Would you be comfortable speaking with your physician, healthcare worker or medical professional about cannabis?

  • How confident are you that police have the tools they need to accurately detect cannabis-impaired driving?

  • How comfortable are you about talking to young people about cannabis?

  • Does your workplace have a substance use policy?

Download the CCSA–Nanos Research Poll Summary​ to find out your fellow Canadians thoughts and concerns about the legalization cannabis.​​

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General Population

Canadians aged 16 years and older held the following opinions about cannabis:

  • Non-medical cannabis use is more socially acceptable than tobacco use.

  • The majority of those who used cannabis in the past year stated that it had no effect on their work, studies, home life, marriage or physical health.

  • About half of those who used cannabis in the past year stated that it positively influenced their mental health, quality of life, friendships and social life.

  • About half the participants stated that cannabis had a positive effect on a person’s mood, creativity, anxiety and sleep.

  • Most participants concluded that cannabis use had a negative effect on a person’s motivation and ambition, memory, concentration, attention, thinking and decision making.

  • The majority believe that cannabis can be habit-forming.

For more information on general population perceptions, see the Canadian Cannabis Survey (2017).

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CCSA collected the following opinions about cannabis from a small sample of Canadian youth aged 15–19 years:​

  • Cannabis is a natural plant, not a drug, and therefore is safe.

  • Cannabis can give the user positive effects such as focus, relaxation, ability to sleep and creativity.

  • Cannabis effects depend on the people that use it; the effects have more to do with the person and their attitudes than the drug itself.

  • Cannabis makes people better drivers because it increases their focus.

  • Cannabis is not addictive and stopping use of it does not lead to withdrawal symptoms.

  • Cannabis is not harmful, especially compared to alcohol and psychoactive prescription drugs.

For more information on youth perceptions of cannabis, refer to Canadian Youth Perceptions on Cannabis (report in short / full report) and What Canadian Youth Think about Cannabis (report in short / full report). CCSA has also developed an infographic on teen perceptions of cannabis.