Four out of 10 Canadians say the price will determine whether they buy their pot legally or on the black market as legalization approaches.
That’s according to a Global News’ exclusive Ipsos poll on cannabis usage in Canada.
What that means is if the government prices marijuana too high, Canadians are likely to continue the status quo and continue using the black market to obtain cannabis, Jennifer McLeod Macey, vice-president at Ipsos Public Affairs, explained.
About a third of Canadian respondents (36 per cent) say they’ll still get it from the same place as before legalization, while another 14 per cent said they’ll switch where they buy their weed.
“We have to remember that some users are getting it legally already, medically. A lot of recreational cannabis users are also medical users,” Macey said.
“A lot of people are currently getting it illegally and they don’t expect much to change,” Macey said, adding that just over half of non-using Canadians (54 per cent) say they’re “really not expecting any changes after October 17.”
Only five per cent of respondents said they would base where they buy their pot on the location of the stores.
When it comes down to it, if the price of legal marijuana is too expensive, then buyers will continue to get their pot from their trusted source at a cheaper price, experts told Global News.
“Pricing legal cannabis near the illicit market price, or even slightly higher as our data suggests, is an important factor in minimizing purchasing from the illicit market,” Michael Amlung, a behavioural neuroscience assistant professor and faculty affiliate of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research at McMaster University said.
Amlung said his data shows that between $10-14 per gram is the optimal price for Ontarians, but if it’s any higher, it will drive buyers to the illegal market.
He said the number of Canadians who will base their purchase on price could be higher than four out of 10 because people might not want to admit that they will continue using the black market, or they aren’t conscious of “how much price actually influences their purchasing.”
We still don’t know what the price of legal cannabis will be across the country, but New Brunswick has listed prices from $7.50-14.99. The government has previously said the price may vary a bit from province to province. Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said in June the price will be competitive with the black market.
But Macey says this data shows that Canadians will stick with the status quo and that the black market will remain active for at least a while.
“I don’t think it’s going to change overnight,” she explained. “I don’t think there will be a massive change at the end of this week or the middle of this week.”
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According to the poll, about one in 10 non-using Canadians say they will start using cannabis after legalization, which suggests at least some will buy pot legally, Macey said.
A majority of Canadians (84 per cent) say legalization won’t change the amount of cannabis they consume, while another 13 per cent say they will consume more cannabis once it’s legalized. More younger people (aged 18-34) said they would consume more compared to their older counterparts.
Statistics Canada officials say they plan to pull point-of-sale information from legal cannabis purchases to figure out how much people spend, its impact on the economy and provide a way to capture what’s left of the black market.
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Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.”
This Ipsos poll on behalf of Global News was an online survey of 2,000 Canadians conducted between Oct. 5 and Oct. 9. The results were weighted to better reflect the composition of the adult Canadian population, according to census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
— With files from Global News’ Rahul Kalvapalle