Weed is legal in Canada — but a majority of pot users still want to keep it ‘hush hush’: Ipsos poll

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Cannabis perceptions and destigmatization
ABOVE: The stigma surrounding recreation marijuana. – Oct 12, 2018

Recreational marijuana is officially legal across the country. But despite it being allowed, more than half of Canadian pot users still would not tell people they get high.

According to an exclusive survey for Global News by Ipsos Reid, six in 10 respondents said they wouldn’t be comfortable using cannabis in public spaces and more than half indicated they do not plan on telling people they smoke it.

The survey also found that among cannabis users, women, people living in the Atlantic provinces, medical marijuana users and those aged 18-34 are more likely to say that even after pot legalization, they won’t be comfortable using it in public spaces.

“We’ve got a majority who say they won’t be comfortable using it in public spaces, and half of them don’t plan to tell people that they use it,” Jennifer McLeod Macey, vice-president at Ipsos Public Affairs, said.

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MORE: For the launch of our weekly newsletter Cannabis IQ, we’re giving away $100 Visa gift cards. Click here to find out more.

McLeod said, “weed stereotypes” are so ingrained in society that it’s not going to just go away the day after legalization.

“Even if you look at all of the discussion since the announcement over a year ago, whether it be just talk around the water cooler or in various news channels or comment boards. There’s still a lot of chuckling and joking about who a user is, like making jokes about stoners or ​hippies,” she said.

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She predicts that weed users won’t be as “hush hush” about it, but they may not talk about it widely because the dialogue around cannabis hasn’t really changed yet.

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Simon Grigenas, the CEO of BRNT Designs (a high-end cannabis accessories company that makes things like ceramic bongs and concrete pipes) said although his business has been growing, the cannabis stigma remains.

“That’s our focus, leaving that stoner culture behind. I think over time that transition will be there and it will be no different than receiving a beautiful set of wine glasses,” he said.

Fighting back against the stigma

However, there are some pot users who said not only will they talk about it openly now that it’s legal, but they already have been vocal about weed for months.

Melissa,  a geographer who lives in Winnipeg, said she started using medical marijuana — specifically CBD oil — this year to help cope with stress and anxiety.

“I got a medical prescription in March, and after that, was open about using cannabis because I had a positive experience,” she said.

Melissa said she told friends, family and colleagues about it, and because she was using it medically and responsibly, she had positive feedback.

WATCH: Is weed good or bad for you? Everything we know about the health effects of cannabis

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She said now that recreational marijuana is legal, she hopes more people talk about the benefits of using it as a medicine and taking it responsibly, so there is less of a stigma.

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Matt W., another Winnipegger, said he has been smoking pot for almost a decade now and has been very open about it.

“All my family knows. Some people at work know, and it’s sometimes joked about in management meetings,” he said. “Prior to this job I owned a business for six years and all of my employees and clients knew.”

READ MORE: Here are all the legal ways to consume pot in Canada

Matt said he’s been surprised about how accepted it’s been. Besides getting the rare joke about being a “stoner,” he said, for the most part, he found that people who don’t use cannabis don’t really care.

“The biggest problem is the ignorance towards the effects of marijuana. I think some people who haven’t done it think it’s like an LSD trip and you’re going to end up doing meth … drinking is way more harmful and dangerous than weed, but 100 years of fear mongering has created a perception that we’re all gonna become brain dead on Oct. 17.”
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.

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— With files from Global News’ Fletcher Kent

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