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Quebecers are smoking more cannabis during lockdown, study finds

Click to play video: 'Have Canadian cannabis users increased their usage during the pandemic?' Have Canadian cannabis users increased their usage during the pandemic?
More than half of cannabis users in Canada reported they turned to using more cannabis in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alexia Kapralos looks at why users are consuming more, and why the latest cannabis trends are concerning for some health professionals – Mar 13, 2021

Quebecers are consuming more cannabis and smoking more cigarettes during confinement, according to a new study published Tuesday. 

Nearly one-third, or 32 per cent, of cannabis users questioned by researchers from the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) during April 16 to 28 reported that their consumption had increased “in the last week,” compared with the period before the pandemic.

In contrast, 55 per cent said it had stayed the same and only 15 per cent said their consumption had decreased.

 READ MORE: Cannabis business park planned for Lumby, B.C.

The increase is most significant among young adults, 18 to 34 years old, with 39 per cent admitting to using more cannabis products.

Generally speaking, single people (34 per cent) are more likely to report that they use marijuana than those living as a couple (32 per cent) and those living in a household with children (31 per cent).

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According to the INSPQ, 12 per cent of Quebec adults consumed cannabis at least once during the month of April.

The vast majority, 79 per cent, say they use cannabis is for “recreational” purposes, compared with 21 per cent “for medical purposes only.” 

In its new study, the INSPQ reports that the health crisis is the main source of concern and cause of stress, anxiety, isolation and thus led to an increase in the consumption of cannabis, tobacco and alcohol.
Smokers have also increased their cigarette consumption during confinement even though several analyses show that smokers who have been infected with COVID-19 are at greater risk of complications than non-smokers.

Some 38 per cent of smokers said their cigarette consumption had increased in the past month relative to before the pandemic, compared with 46 per cent who did not change their habit and 16 per cent who reduced their consumption.

READ MORE: Man flees on bike, ditches trailer filled with $140K in dried cannabis, Strathroy-Caradoc police say

As with cannabis use, it is among young adults, 18 to 34 years old, that the increase is most significant, with 49 per cent of smokers claiming to consume more cannabis products.

According to Statistics Canada, just over 1.2 million Quebecers smoke cigarettes every day or occasionally.

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Smoking causes 13,000 deaths per year in Quebec.

The INSPQ report did not indicate whether more Quebecers have been drinking alcohol since the start of the pandemic.

However, 40 per cent of adults participating in the INSPQ survey indicated that they had exceeded the maximum recommended number of drinks of alcohol per week.

For women, the weekly limit for a reasonable number of drinks is 10, while it is 15 for men.

The INSPQ has been surveying the lifestyle habits of Quebecers on the web since July 1, 2020. Some 3,300 adults respond each week. This is non-probability sampling for which the margin of error cannot be calculated.

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