National Cannabis Survey

Canadians aged 65 and older are less likely to consume cannabis than younger Canadians; among those who do, they are more likely to have purchased their cannabis exclusively from a legal source and generally more likely to consume for medical reasons.

New data from the National Cannabis Survey (NCS) continue to show generational differences across various cannabis-related behaviours post legalization.

The Cannabis Act (C-45) became law on October 17, 2018. To monitor cannabis consumption before and after the legislative change, Statistics Canada has been conducting the NCS every three months since February 2018. This release provides the latest information about cannabis use in Canada. Analyses of combined data from the second and third quarters of 2019, as well as the third quarter 2019 update, are available.

Seniors are the age group showing the most growth in cannabis usage

Cannabis use is less common among seniors than it is in other age groups (7%, compared with 10% at ages 45 to 64, 25% at ages 25 to 44, and 26% at ages 15 to 24). However, cannabis consumption among seniors has been accelerating at a much faster pace than it has among other age groups. For example, in 2012, less than 1% of seniors (about 40,000) reported using, contrasting sharply with estimates from 2019 indicating that more than 400,000 seniors have used cannabis in the past three months.

The increasing popularity of cannabis among older adults has also contributed to an increase in the average age of cannabis users, which has risen from 29.4 years in 2004 to 38.1 in 2019.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Percentage of cannabis users by age group, household population aged 15 years and older, Canada, second and third quarters combined 2019
Percentage of cannabis users by age group, household population aged 15 years and older, Canada, second and third quarters combined 2019

Chart 1: Percentage of cannabis users by age group, household population aged 15 years and older, Canada, second and third quarters combined 2019

More than one-quarter of seniors who use cannabis are new users

According to combined data collected during the second and third quarters of 2019, there are about 578,000 new cannabis users, that is, those who reported trying cannabis for the first time in the past three months. First-time use increases with age. While 10% of cannabis consumers aged 25 to 44 were new users in the second and third quarters of 2019, this was the case for more than one-quarter (27%) of cannabis consumers aged 65 and older.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Percentage of cannabis users reporting that they began using in the past 3 months, by age group, household population aged 15 years and older, Canada, second and third quarters combined 2019
Percentage of cannabis users reported that they began using in the past 3 months, by age group, household population aged 15 years and older, Canada, second and third quarters combined 2019

Chart 2: Percentage of cannabis users reporting that they began using in the past 3 months, by age group, household population aged 15 years and older, Canada, second and third quarters combined 2019

Seniors less likely to use cannabis daily or almost daily

Using cannabis frequently can lead to a pattern of problematic use or use disorder. According to the most recent data from 2019, seniors were less likely to report daily or almost daily use compared with persons under the age of 65.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Frequency of cannabis use by age group, household population aged 15 years and older, Canada, second and third quarters combined 2019
Frequency of cannabis use by age group, household population aged 15 years and older, Canada, second and third quarters combined 2019

Chart 3: Frequency of cannabis use by age group, household population aged 15 years and older, Canada, second and third quarters combined 2019

Seniors more likely to use cannabis for medical reasons

Canadians were asked to provide their main reason for using cannabis, that is, for non-medical use, for medical use (with or without a medical document), or for both medical and non-medical use.

Medical use was more common at older ages, while non-medical use predominated at younger ages. More than half (52%) of seniors aged 65 and older reported using cannabis exclusively for medical reasons, while the remaining seniors were evenly split between non-medical only (24%) and both medical and non-medical reasons (24%). In contrast, nearly 60% of youth aged 15 to 24 reported using cannabis exclusively for non-medical purposes and more than one-third (35%) reported consuming for both medical and non-medical reasons. Exclusive medical use among the youngest age group was rare, making the estimate too unreliable to be published.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Percentage of cannabis users reporting non-medical, medical and both medical and non-medical cannabis use, by age group, Canada, second and third quarters combined 2019
Percentage of cannabis users reporting non-medical, medical and both medical and non-medical cannabis use, by age group, Canada, second and third quarters combined 2019

Chart 4: Percentage of cannabis users reporting non-medical, medical and both medical and non-medical cannabis use, by age group, Canada, second and third quarters combined 2019

Seniors the most likely to obtain cannabis exclusively from legal sources

An estimated 28% of cannabis users (1.4 million Canadians) reported obtaining all of the cannabis they consumed from a legal source, with consumers aged 65 and older (41%) being the most likely to be using only legally-obtained cannabis, compared with about one-quarter of younger consumers (23% to 29%, depending on age).

Many consumers obtain cannabis from multiple sources. If all of the people who reported getting at least some of their cannabis from a legal source are combined, the percentage of cannabis consumers accessing cannabis legally nearly doubles to 53% or 2.6 million Canadians.

Obtaining cannabis from other sources was also common and tended to differ across generations. For example, seniors were less likely (23%) to report having obtained cannabis from an illegal supplier, whereas youth aged 15 to 24 (52%) and adults aged 25 to 44 (43%) or 45 to 64 (39%) were more likely to do so. Seniors (30%) were also generally less likely than younger consumers (41% to 46%, depending on age) to have obtained cannabis from (or to have shared it with) friends and family.

Growing cannabis, either themselves or by someone else, was a supply source for about 8% of consumers, and about 4% reported another (unspecified) source—with no differences by age.

Where Canadians obtain their cannabis continues to change

More cannabis users reported obtaining cannabis from legal sources in the second and third quarters of 2019 (53%) compared with corresponding estimates from the same period in 2018 (23%), when non-medical cannabis was not yet legal. The percentages of consumers reporting only obtaining cannabis legally also rose, to 28% from 10% one year earlier. Examples of legal sources of cannabis include authorized retailers and online licensed producers. In contrast, fewer users reported obtaining cannabis from illegal sources such as a dealer in 2019 (42%) than in 2018 (52%), or from friends and family (39% in 2019 versus 49% in 2018).

Third quarter 2019: More than five million Canadians report having used cannabis

From mid-August to mid-September, nearly 5.2 million or 17% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported using cannabis in the previous three months. This was unchanged from one year earlier (before legalization).

Despite stability in the national rates, cannabis use did increase in the third quarter of 2019 compared with the third quarter of 2018, in some age groups and regions, including seniors and among persons aged 25 to 44 years of age.

In the third quarter of 2019, 24% of residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, 24% of residents of New Brunswick, 26% of residents of Prince Edward Island and 33% of Nova Scotians reported using cannabis. These proportions were above the average for the rest of Canada (other provinces combined), ranging from 8 to 11 percentage points higher than estimates from the previous year. Meanwhile, use in Quebec (11%) remained lower than the national average.

And how does being a “medicinal” or “recreational” user affect your premiums?

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‘I think the lines have blurred with medical marijuana’

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The Co-operators to provide optional medical cannabis coverage

The Co-operators Life Insurance Co. is introducing optional medical cannabis coverage for its largest group plan sponsors.

While the coverage can be added as an optional provision under an extended health-care plan, it requires prior authorization and is subject to an annual maximum.

The insurer will consider cannabis an eligible expense under a health-care spending account, as long as the plan member has met all the guidelines set out by Health Canada. It stipulates that, since medical cannabis doesn’t have a drug identification number, it isn’t eligible for coverage under a prescription drug plan.

However, the Co-operators will consider coverage for conditions where cannabis has been proven effective, such as chronic pain, nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy and muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.

The Co-operators joins a growing list of insurers now providing options for group medical cannabis coverage, including SSQ Life Insurance Co. Inc. and Medavie Blue Cross.

HelloMD expands white-label telehealth services for Licensed Producers & Clinics to better serve the medical cannabis market

TORONTO, Oct. 29, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — HelloMD, a leading online cannabis telehealth company, today announces expansion of its white-label services for Licensed Producers and brick-and-mortar clinics, to better serve the Canadian medical cannabis market.

The company’s white-labeled patient consult and support services offer Licensed Producers and brick-and-mortar cannabis clinics an opportunity to rapidly expand their patient populations while adding online solutions to better serve the fast growing wellness-oriented cannabis consumer segment.

Many Canadians seeking medical cannabis have physical limitations, live in areas far from the nearest clinic, or simply prefer the discretion and convenience implicit in virtual consults. HelloMD partners can offer their patients branded, online access to healthcare professionals from the comfort of their preferred location, seven days a week. The HelloMD platform has conducted more than 100,000 online medical cannabis consults and been deployed by 100’s of partners.

With zero capital outlay, and in as little as one day, HelloMD white-label partners can launch branded versions of one or more turnkey services:

100% Online Doctor Consultations. HelloMD partner patients experience the convenience and privacy of talking to a licensed practitioner from the comfort of wherever they choose, and interact in an online environment that reflects the partner’s brand. All practitioners are recruited, trained and managed by HelloMD. Patient documents are securely shared with partners via API or accessed via a partner portal.
Education & Registration Services. Following the online consultation, a patient can engage, via video-chat, with a HelloMD patient services team member for help with licensed producer selection and registration. Alternatively, the partner can choose to have the patient returned to them immediately following the practitioner consult.
Content Solutions. HelloMD can produce ongoing, tailored educational content and make it available within the partner’s branded patient portal. For partners reaching first-time patients, this is an opportunity to extend their position as a trusted source, without the heavy lifting of content creation and management.
The Flowr Corporation (“Flowr”) (TSXV: FLWR) recently launched HelloMD’s turnkey set of telehealth services. Patients and those seeking a medical consultation can access the HelloMD service through Flowr’s website https://flowr.ca/hellomd/.

“Flowr’s partnership with HelloMD is part of our plan to offer a premium service and product experience to our medical clients. Flowr believes in easy access to cannabis for those who can benefit from its medicinal qualities and making the HelloMD platform available through our website gives clients convenient, discreet access to healthcare professionals at the time and place of their choosing. For some clients, this may be their only option to access medical cannabis,”​ said Dr. Lyle Oberg, Flowr Chief Policy and Medical Officer.

“HelloMD has always been a highly partner-centric company. We focus our feature development, service scalability and level of customer service on patients and the partners that serve them. We’re excited to be working on Flowr and others seeking to expand on their reach or the level of service they offer prospective patients,” said Larry Lisser, HelloMD’s SVP of Business Development.

To become a white label partner with HelloMD, please contact Larry Lisser, SVP of Business Development HelloMD, partners@hellomd.com

Young Canadians face heightened crash risk after consuming cannabis, new study finds

Young Canadians are more at risk of a vehicle crash even five hours after inhaling cannabis, according to results of a clinical trial conducted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and McGill University, and funded by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

The research found that performance declined significantly, in key areas such as reaction time, even five hours after inhaling the equivalent of less than one typical joint. The participants’ driving performance, which was tested in a driving simulator, deteriorated as soon as they were exposed to the kinds of distractions common on the road.

The peer-reviewed study is published online today at 6:00 a.m. EST at CMAJ Open, an online sister journal to CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

The trial examined the impact of cannabis on the driving ability of 18 to 24 year old occasional users. CAA polling has found that a significant number of young Canadians – one in five – believe they are as good or better drivers stoned as they are sober.

“This new trial provides important Canadian evidence that cannabis can affect the skills needed to drive safely even five hours after consuming,” said Jeff Walker, CAA chief strategy officer. “The message is simple. If you consume, don’t drive. Find another way home or stay where you are.”

“This rigorous experimental trial adds to a growing body of scientific literature on cannabis use and driving,” said study co-author Isabelle Gélinas, a researcher in McGill’s School of Physical and Occupational Therapy. “The findings provide new evidence on the extent to which driving-related performance is compromised following a typical dose of inhaled cannabis, even at five hours after use.”

Under controlled conditions, researchers tested driving-related performance of young Canadians in a simulated environment, at intervals up to five hours after they had consumed cannabis. Participants were also tested with no cannabis in their system to set a baseline.

While the participants showed no significant effects when there were no distractions, as soon as conditions became more realistic, driving-related performance reduced significantly. In addition, a large percentage of the young drivers reported they did not feel as safe to drive after consuming cannabis, even five hours after use.

“When you feel you are not safe to drive you are right – you are not!” Walker said.

“CAA is committed to doing its part in furthering this important road safety issue, but governments must step up too,” Walker added. “We need funding earmarked specifically to study the effects of cannabis on driving – research that covers the spectrum from basic research to on-road safety initiatives.”

About the study

The CAA-funded study was conducted by a multidisciplinary research team at the Centre for Innovative Medicine (CIM) of the RI-MUHC, under the supervision of Drs. Nicol Korner-Bitensky and Isabelle Gélinas, leading driving researchers, and Dr. Mark Ware, a leading cannabis researcher. The driving simulator used in the study was supplied by Virage Simulation, a Montreal-based company. The lead author, Dr. Tatiana Ogourtsova, is a post-doctoral fellow. Ms. Maja Kalaba, a junior epidemiologist at the MUHC, was project coordinator. (As of July 1, 2018, Dr. Ware became an employee of Canopy Growth Corporation, a Canadian licensed producer of medical cannabis; as of that date, he had no further involvement in analysis of the data for the study.)

Participants in this randomized clinical trial were between the ages of 18 and 24 years old and recreational users of cannabis (i.e. used cannabis at least once in the past three months, but not more than four times per week). The trial tested their driving related performance on four different days using a state-of-the-art driving simulator and a Useful Field of View test. Testing was randomized to occur 1 hour, 3 hours and 5 hours after they had consumed cannabis. They used a medical grade vaporizer to consume a dose of 100 mg dried cannabis flowers containing 13% THC over several inhalations. A typical joint is 300-500 mg of dried cannabis. Full details of the study are available here as of 6 am ET on Oct. 15.

SOURCE Canadian Automobile Association

http://www.caa.ca

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