British Columbia has released results of public engagement on the possible approval of cannabis consumption spaces, such as at special events or businesses where marijuana is available for sale.
The report, produced by the Ministry of Public Safety to inform a decision on consumption spaces, shows most respondents who use cannabis like the idea, while there’s opposition from those who don’t.
It says there may be at least 750,000 people in B.C. interested in visiting a cannabis consumption space, based on the engagement and a 2021 survey that estimated 1.4 million residents used the drug in the previous year.
But responses from public health and safety stakeholders showed concerns that both cannabis and alcohol might be purchased and consumed at the same locations, along with the potential risk of impaired driving.
The report shows 61 per cent of 730 people randomly selected for a telephone survey supported the consumption spaces, while 34 per cent of more than 15,000 people who responded online felt the same.
However, the report says the online findings don’t necessarily represent the opinions of the broader B.C. population because of the potential for self-selection bias associated with choosing to take the survey.
It adds that respondents were informed that indoor smoking and vaping would not be permitted in the potential cannabis consumption spaces, but some may not have considered that restriction when submitting their feedback.
The report notes the surveys revealed some demographic differences, with greater support for cannabis consumption spaces among younger people, as well as Indigenous respondents and those who did not identify as a “visible minority.”
The B.C. government has not yet made a decision about cannabis consumption spaces, what types of spaces might be allowed, or how they may be regulated.
A discussion paper released by the Ministry of Public Safety last spring outlined five proposed principles to guide the province’s approach to the consumption spaces, including prioritizing public safety, respecting local control over land-use decisions, and encouraging consumers to transition to the regulated rather than illegal market.