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Survey shows significant decrease in illegal cannabis store use

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:10 PDT, Wed August 3, 2022

A recent survey is showing positive changes in behaviour among B.C. cannabis consumers, including more responsible use and fewer people purchasing from unlicensed sellers.

The survey results show a significant decrease in the number of consumers who report buying from an unlicensed store—from 56 per cent in 2018 to 17 per cent in 2021, and 71 per cent of consumers reported purchasing from licensed retailers. Findings suggest that most people in B.C. who choose to use cannabis are doing so responsibly.

"This comprehensive report gives us important information directly from people in British Columbia on their opinions and habits surrounding cannabis use," said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. "From how it may impact their daily lives to perceptions around cannabis use and driving, it's important for us to know this information so we can support a strong cannabis sector in B.C., while continuing to keep public health and safety the cornerstone of our policies."

The 2021 B.C. Cannabis Use Survey follows up on an initial survey conducted in 2018 and is one of the first large-scale provincial studies assessing changes in cannabis behaviours and perceptions. Both surveys were planned as part of the province's commitment to monitor implementation of the legal cannabis framework and designed to provide insights into the impact of the cannabis sector on both public health and economic activities.

Results are representative of British Columbia's population and provide information specific to each health authority and health service delivery area. BC Stats has developed an online application that enables further exploration of the findings.

In 2021, 17 per cent of people reported buying cannabis from a physical unlicensed store (down from 56 per cent pre-legalization), and nine per cent bought from a dealer (down from 16 per cent pre-legalization). There has been a decrease in self-reported driving after cannabis use since 2018 (from 28 per cent to 15 per cent).

Since legalization, the prevalence of cannabis use in B.C. has increased four percentage points (from 28 per cent to 32 per cent). Ingestible methods of cannabis use (e.g., edibles, beverages, oils, tinctures) and vaping products have become more popular since legalization.

Smoking dried flower has become less prevalent, although smoking is still the most popular method of use. Nearly 25,000 people living in British Columbia participated in the survey.

To read the full 2021 BC Cannabis Use Report, click here.

To further explore findings through the B.C. Cannabis Survey Online App, visit

For information about cannabis regulation in B.C., visit

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