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Vancouver, BC – According to a new study called “The Future of Cannabis in Canada” conducted by Insights West for Resonance Consultancy in partnership with Valens GroWorks, there has been a Canadian-wide increase in Cannabis consumption since legalization and strong future demand for edibles. However, the black and grey market for buying still dominates legal cannabis economy, at least for the time being.

According to our research, the market has grown considerably for cannabis consumption overall given the number of existing users who have increased their consumption levels and the number of new users coming on steam since legalization. Nearly one quarter (23%) of the general Canadian adult 19+ population has consumed cannabis in any shape or form since legalization, a full 16% of cannabis users report an increase in consumption since that day, and 5% are new cannabis users. A smaller percentage (9%) report lower consumption and about 70% of cannabis users report no difference in consumption levels.

Cannabis is currently being consumed in a variety of ways and situations for Canadians. Although the most prevalent form of cannabis consumed by cannabis users is still smoking it in a joint, we also see growing trends of consuming cannabis through newer methods such as edibles, vaping, oils, and in drinks. More than two-thirds (68%) of past-year cannabis users consume cannabis by smoking a joint, with 36% of them stating it is their regular choice of consumption, followed by 32% who say “occasionally”. Despite not being legal yet, edibles are next highest on the list, with 36% using this method of consumption on a regular/occasional basis. Vaping and oils are lower on the list at 30% and 27% respectively.  A further 10% say they consume cannabis in drinkables on a regular/occasional basis.

There are a wide variety of consumption scenarios for cannabis users across the country.  Most cannabis users regularly or occasionally consume cannabis in their own home (72%), and 67% of cannabis users consume it with friends. Interestingly, cannabis consumers are more likely to consume while alone (63% stated regularly or occasionally) compared to at a party (56% regularly or occasionally). Worryingly, 16% of cannabis users have consumed cannabis while driving or while in a motor vehicle, with 9% stating regularly or occasionally.

There is wide opportunity in the Canadian marketplace to expand the methods in which Canadians choose to consume cannabis in the future.  Close to 6-in-10 cannabis users (58%) are likely to consume edibles in the future, especially since edibles will be legalized next year. More than 4-in-10 cannabis users (44%) are likely to try cannabis oil, and 30% are likely to try cannabis-infused drinks. Younger consumers, specifically those aged 18-34, are more likely to try consuming cannabis edibles and drinkables relative to their older counterparts—with interest levels about 20 points higher than their counterparts in the 55+ category.

Despite legalization and the advent of legal stores, cannabis users continue to purchase cannabis from dealers/black market or from friends/family. When looking at past-year cannabis users, more than one-third regularly or occasionally buy from friends/family (36%) or from dealers/black market (35%). This is slightly higher than those who regularly or occasionally buy from privately-run retail stores (32%), online privately-run retail stores (31%), or online government-run retail stores (28%). Interestingly, buying from dealers and the black market is most popular with those aged 35-54 (37%) compared to those aged 55+ (31%). However, when cannabis users were asked where they would prefer to buy cannabis products, the most preferred channel is retail store (47%), followed by online (23%). A further 23% have no preference, while 8% are not sure. When comparing regions, both British Columbians and Ontarians are the most likely to prefer retail stores for their cannabis purchases, with 60% and 52% highlighting them as their preferred choice respectively.

“There have been dramatic changes to the cannabis economy since the advent of legalization, and further changes are yet to come” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West.  “Retail distribution as well as product preferences are also part of the dramatic shifts that will continue to shape the future of this dynamic industry.”

“As a leading advisor on tourism, real estate and economic development, Resonance Consultancy works with developers, cities and communities to help them understand consumer trends, plan for the future and communicate their unique story in order to realize their full economic potential,” says Resonance President, Chris Fair. He says Resonance Consultancy wanted to hold a mirror up to Canadian sentiment around legal cannabis to help governments, businesses and entrepreneurs prepare to capitalize on one of the next decade’s biggest opportunities for made-in-Canada innovation.

“We also hope that this report gives Canadians an awareness of the national sentiment and an understanding that their ideas and decisions around legal cannabis in this country are crucial to shaping the nascent industry,” Fair says.


About Resonance Consultancy:

Resonance Consultancy specializes in research, development strategy, place branding and place marketing that shapes the future of countries, cities, and communities. Based in Vancouver and New York, the 18 employees at Resonance have completed more than 100 research reports, development strategies, business plans and branding projects for real estate developers, tourism organizations and governments in more than 75 countries.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from December 13 to December 21, 2018, among 1,001 adult British Columbians and 1,500 past-year cannabis users. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error – which measures sample variability – is +/- 2.5% 19 times out of 20 for the 1,500 past-year cannabis users, and +/- 3.1% 19 times out of 20 for the 1,001 general population Canadians.

Get your free copy of the report HERE.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West

Tom Gierasimczuk
Vice President & Chief Content Office
Resonance Consultancy