Roughly one-fifth of respondents to an anonymous survey used cannabis in the past year, says Manitoba’s Liquor and Gaming Authority.
The same survey, which was done by the Liquor and Gaming Authority, suggested more than half of respondents — 56 per cent — said they don’t use cannabis and aren’t planning to start once federal legislation legalizes the drug in 2018.
The authority conducted the anonymous survey of about 1,200 adults in September “to build a full picture of who is using cannabis now, how often and how much they use, and how this might look different after legalization.”
The survey results suggest the top safety concerns ahead of legalization concern driving rules, where people use the drug and underage people purchasing or using it.
”As a regulator, ensuring public safety is always our priority,” executive director Rick Josephson said in a written release.
“It’s critical that we get information to current and potential users to make sure they’re equipped to make responsible choices when trying cannabis.”
In November, the province revealed its plan for a “hybrid model” of cannabis distribution, in which the province will secure and track marijuana supply and private retail stores will sell it.
Most users motivated by recreation or fun
The survey results also had “considerably higher” lifetime and current use among Manitoba respondents than in the national numbers compiled by Statistics Canada in 2015.
But Liquor and Gaming cautioned against reading into those numbers, noting the discrepancies could have more to do with the truthfulness of participants, decreasing stigma about the drug or increasing media attention than unique Manitoba habits.
More than half of Manitobans surveyed, 55.2 per cent, said they’d tried cannabis in their lifetime, compared to 44.5 per cent of Canadians in the Statistics Canada survey from 2015.
Roughly 21 per cent of Manitobans said they’d used it in the previous year, the authority said, compared to 12 per cent of Canadians in the Statistics Canada survey
Manitoba respondents were also asked to say what motivated them to use cannabis and were given the option to provide multiple reasons.
The majority of users — 63 per cent — said they used it for “relaxation and/or fun.” Just over a quarter of users, or 28 per cent, cited “various medical reasons,” about 21 per cent said pain management, and 12 per cent said they used it for “social interaction.”
Sixty-two per cent of users said they always avoid driving after consuming cannabis, and nearly half, 48 per cent, said they always limit how much they consume.
The survey found that 2.3 per cent of Manitobans are at risk of cannabis dependence, which the authority said is in line with other jurisdictions.