In a recent online survey, 34 per cent were in favour of Cannabis consumption spaces
In a 2022 report recently released by B.C.’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General called “What We Heard,” the B.C. government assessed whether cannabis consumption spaces should be established and legalized and, if sanctioned, how they should be implemented.
“Cannabis consumption space” is a term for a business such as a cannabis lounge, café, or other institution that sells cannabis and allows for on-site use.
According to the report, in spring 2022, B.C. citizens, businesses, governmental stakeholders, and Indigenous partners were encouraged to share their opinions and responses regarding the creation of cannabis consumption spaces. They were also encouraged to share their thoughts on potential concerns or opportunities that these spaces may generate for their community. These responses were collected via online and telephone surveys, as well as written documents. The government received 730 completed telephone surveys from interviewees, 15 362 completed online surveys, and 66 written submissions from citizens, corporations, stakeholders, and organizations.
In terms of results, around 61 per cent of telephone survey interviewees and 34 per cent of online survey interviewees were in favour of cannabis consumption spaces. However, there were general discrepancies between respondents who identified as cannabis users and respondents who did not identify themselves as cannabis users. Most respondents who use cannabis were in favour of consumption spaces, including support from stakeholders such as cannabis retailers and producers. Respondents who said they do not use cannabis generally did not support consumption spaces, including stakeholders like public health and safety organizations and local governments who wrote in.
“Health and safety are our utmost priorities as we consider how provincial cannabis policies could evolve,” said Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general, in a news release. “This report provides valuable insights into people in B.C.’s perspectives on cannabis and will help guide our work to support a strong, diverse, and safe legal cannabis sector across the Province.”
The biggest concern that appeared in the online surveys revolved around the potential for increases in driving under the influence of drugs. Other concerns from those who do not use cannabis included the smell, the impact of these spaces in encouraging drug use or smoking and vaping, and the health impact on children and others. However, those respondents who use cannabis saw the positive potential in these consumption spaces, such as creating specific spaces for people to get together, adding jobs to the market and supporting the economy, contributing to local businesses, helping encourage responsible marijuana use, and overall reducing the stigma around cannabis.
According to a 2021 report organized by the BC Cannabis Secretariat and BC Stats, almost one in three British Columbians (32 per cent) over the age of 19 professed to using cannabis at least once in the past year. This signifies an increase from 28 per cent in 2018 before cannabis became legalized in the province.
When it comes to university students, these stats rise even more. In a 2017 study done by Maclean’s on reported marijuana use at Canadian universities, UVic ranked first place in B.C. and fifth place overall in Canada after universities such as Acadia and Dalhousie. Forty-nine per cent of UVic students reported varied levels of cannabis use, including 27 per cent who reported consuming cannabis less than once a year or less than once a month, 16 per cent who reported taking cannabis about once a month or a few times a month, and 7 per cent who reported daily or somewhat-daily cannabis consumption. “Exploring the feasibility of cannabis consumption spaces is another way B.C. is working to support the success of the industry,” said Brittny Anderson, parliamentary secretary for tourism, in a news release. “The feedback in this report will play an important role in the development of provincial policies.”
At present, the future of cannabis consumption spaces remains in its early stages in order to review the data collected and issues raised in this report, with no decisions yet being solidified by the B.C. government.