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More People Try Cannabis for the First Time When It’s Legal

More People Try Cannabis When It's Legal
Photo by Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

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More People Try Cannabis for the First Time When It’s Legal

Legalization in Canada is resulting in more first-time cannabis users.

When there’s no need to keep sneaking around, no more looking out for snitches when you slip a dealer some cash, no chance that the cops will kick down the door to your apartment and drag your butt to jail, marijuana, gets a little less intimidating. The drug formerly known as one of the most dangerous substances in the world just becomes, dare we say, kind of boring.

The legalization of cannabis has a way of dampening the plant’s felonious overtones and tempering society’s judgment, and sets the plant on course to become part of the ordinary world. The transition is happening slowly, but eventually, the danger factor that weed has maintained during times of prohibition just starts to fade away. So much, in fact, that there has come a time when even those people who’ve never smoked weed in their lives start to consider giving it a whirl for the first time.

But just how much time does it take for weed to become so commonplace in the post-prohibition arena that non-users step into the realm of the stoned? Well, apparently only a few months, according to a new report from Statistics Canada. That seems to be all it takes to get hundreds of thousands of first-time tokers to venture into the market to see what all the fuss is about.

It might start out as a casual conversation between a husband and wife, where one of them is talking about an article they saw in Cannabis Now about how weed is supposed to be a heck of a lot of fun and even make sex better. The next thing you know, Mr. and Mrs. Smith are regulars down at the local dispensary, and there is just no stopping them from their new life of giggle-dom and chill.

Not that a metric crap-ton of newbies aren’t trying pot for the first time in an outlaw setting. The Statistics Canada report shows that 330,000 Canadians used weed for the first time within the first three months of 2018. But then legalization happened in October, and the number of first-time users experienced a bit of an influx. Let’s just say that since the turn of 2019, there have already been 650,000 people to get their proverbial cannabis cherries popped — nearly double from the year before.

“One of the things … unique with this survey is the number of respondents who said they’re using for the first time,” Michelle Rotermann, a senior analyst in Statistics Canada’s health analysis division, told CBC News. “So they started, in this case, in the post-legalization period.”

It is conceivable that this outpouring of first-time cannabis use will continue to increase as the legal market matures. But that is not to say that all of these people will become the Mr. and Mrs. Smiths of their neighborhood. There is something called the “straw fire effect,” which insists that the novelty of legal weed creates a surge in sales for a short period, but then it eventually burns back down to normal. We’ve seen this trend happen in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

So, while some people will try marijuana and find that they can’t live without it, others will be less enthused about entering into a lifelong relationship.

All in all, Canada now has approximately 5.3 million cannabis users. Right around half of them, however, are apparently still frequenting the black market. So, this means that even new users are getting their first taste of the herb from street dealers as opposed to legal channels. This is likely to keep their usage a secret. A poll published last year by Global News shows that 60% of Canadians planned to keep their cannabis use hidden from family and friends even after legalization.

Most of Canada’s new pot consumers, the report indicates, happen to be men between the ages of 45 and 64. This is kind of funny, considering that an analysis published last year by Deloitte LPP pretty much pegged middle-aged dads as being some of the best new customers in the Canadian cannabis market. Turns out they were right. Their research found that this age group is probably using marijuana legalization as a way to revisit the old days — presumably a time when they smoked marijuana back in college, but had to quit to get a job and raise a family. But now that Mr. Smith has moved the kids off to college and turned their room into a man cave (lava lamp and all), he can now spend his evenings stoned to the bone and watching Seinfeld reruns in peace.

Yet, the steadiest stream of cannabis users is the 18-to-25-year-old demographic. These people are smoking more weed regularly than any other age group, the report shows. Still, the average cannabis user is right around the age of 38 — that time when people start to learn that their lives might not go according to plan. Thankfully, pot is a great remedy for the divorced, broke and lonely-bastard blues.

All of the increases in cannabis use were among men. The data pertaining to women shows that their cannabis consumption has remained steady. It seems that Mrs. Smith has known what’s up for a long time now.

TELL US, do you know anyone who tried cannabis for the first time post-legalization?

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