More than 16 per cent of men aged 45 to 64 had used weed recently in early 2019, as opposed to just under 10 per cent in early 2018.
Middle-aged women showed the second-biggest growth, from 7.9 per cent to 11.7 per cent.
For R’Jay Mirosovsky, a Saskatoon man who started using after legalization, the prohibition-era market was just too much of a hassle to navigate.
“I think the biggest thing is that I didn’t know where it was coming from,” he says. “My friends were always like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a guy.’ But there’s no real way for me to see what’s actually in it — whether it’s laced with something, how safe it is.”
People who are old enough to remember a harsher phase of prohibition were more reluctant to try illegal cannabis than the generation younger than them, says Jenna Valleriani, executive director of Hope for Health Canada.
“A lot of it is tied to how these folks grew up and how they learned about cannabis and other drugs,” Valleriani says.
“For a lot of folks in that demographic, the illegal status often kept them away from cannabis.”
She adds: “Now that it’s legal, there’s just more opportunity. Just issues around access, folks who are middle-aged, under an illegal framework, perhaps wouldn’t know where to access from.”
In the end, Mirosovsky waited for legalization.
“When it first became legalized in October, I tried it a couple of weeks after that at one of the local stores here. It was fantastic — it was a good experience.”
“When I got to work the next day, I was talking to my co-workers, and he was like, ‘You got hosed — that’s a lot of money to pay for that kind of stuff.’ I was taken aback a bit by how expensive it is.”
Mirosovsky says he smokes but also makes home-made edibles, which his wife prefers.
“I actually went to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, one of the pregames, my wife and my brother and a bunch of friends,” he says. “We took an edible before, and it made the game a lot more fun.”
Women using less cannabis than men isn’t surprising, Valleriani says.
“Across substances, we see that men typically are using more substances than women,” she explains
“Historically, there has been a stronger stigma against women who use any drug, including cannabis. It’s been a perception about who women are who use drugs.”
Under prohibition buying cannabis could also seem — or be — unsafe.
“In terms of when (cannabis) was illegal, purchasing was really difficult. For a lot of younger women, when we think about where they access, they often access through partners, or other men who are acquaintances. I think it’s a bunch of things that just kind of come together.”