Even though marijuana is an illegal substance in Canada and many other countries around the world, it is consumed in significant amounts. Actually, it is the most popular illegal drug with the highest number of references in pop culture, music videos and TV commercials. There are a lot of people who smoke weed in Ontario indeed, but estimating the number of its consumers is difficult, because talking openly about it might get someone in jail with a criminal record.
However, there are attempts to try to estimate the number of people who have smoked cannabis in Canada. One such attempt can be seen in the example of the government conducting official surveys on drug use.
The survey on drug use used to be called the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey till 2012, after which it was replaced by the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS), which is now conducted every other year.
Source: CTADS and CADUMS.
According to this data we can see that the usage of marijuana in the province of Ontario doesn’t differ much compared to marijuana use in the whole Canada. Around 30-40% of people have tried it once in their lifetime, while 9-10% tried it in the past year. That doesn’t mean these are active users. It means that these people tried pot at least once in the mentioned period.
The survey also shows us some upsetting trends. For example, the percentage of youth smoking marijuana is higher compared to adults, and the age of first-time marijuana users is lowering. In fact, a recent 2015 study conducted by CAMH (Centre of Addiction and Mental Health), called the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, found that 21% of 203,900 students in grades 7-12 reported using cannabis in the past year. More alarmingly, usage increased with each grade. In an attempt to combat trends like this, the Liberal government is aiming to restrict marijuana from minors through public health and safety education programs as they work to create new marijuana laws.
Though Statistics Canada has yet to release more recent survey results, Forum Research polled a sample of Ontario adults on their perspective on marijuana legalization. It is interesting to note that of the 1,003 Ontario adults polled, only 20% of those were men who used marijuana in 2015 and 14% of them were women.
Weed Related Crime Rates
With the amount of weed being smoked in Ontario, it is no surprise to see that there are also upsetting crime trends cropping up. The following are the most recent numbers on Cannabis possession, trafficking, production and importing-exporting.
Statistics for Weed Related Crimes in 2014-2015
|Rate per 100,000 population||126.37||107.69|
|Rate of adults charged per 100,000 population aged 18 and over||75.7||63.92|
|Rate of youths charged per 100,000 population aged 12 to 17 years||107.92||83.4|
|Rate per 100,000 population||18.63||14.96|
|Rate of adults charged per 100,000 population aged 18 and over||17.69||14.28|
|Rate of youths charged per 100,000 population aged 12 to 17 years||29.65||23.15|
|Rate per 100,000 population||4.75||4.16|
|Rate of adults charged per 100,000 population aged 18 and over||2.34||2.4|
|Rate of youths charged per 100,000 population aged 12 to 17 years||0.96||0.43|
|Cannabis, importation and exportation||2014||2015|
|Rate per 100,000 population||1.7||1.33|
|Rate of adults charged per 100,000 population aged 18 and over||0.18||0.07|
|Rate of youths charged per 100,000 population aged 12 to 17 years||0||0|
Source: Based on data from CANSIM Table 252-0051 – Incident-based crime statistics, by detailed violations
As you can see, possession of weed is the most common crime in Ontario. The rate has lowered significantly, more than likely due to the changing marijuana landscape and confusion on marijuana policies that are currently affecting Canada.
It is also alarming to see more youths being charged for possession and trafficking than adults for the past two years. Adults are being charged mainly on production and the importing-exporting of cannabis. This seems to suggest that Ontario youths are currently at risk more than ever for substance abuse and criminal activities.
A criminal record could negatively impact your ability to work or travel – your best course of action is to speak with an experienced criminal lawyer who can review your case and provide you with a sound strategy for your defense.