Quebecers still vaping cannabis, despite provincial ban

| David Brown

Despite a provincial ban, a quarter of cannabis-using Quebecers report using cannabis vapes, according to new figures from the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ).

Twenty-five percent of Quebecers who reported consuming cannabis in the past year vaped it. 

The study also shows that most cannabis consumers in Quebec get at least some of their cannabis products from legal sources in the province.

Nearly 73% of people in Quebec aged 15 to 17 who used cannabis in the past year reported vaping it, along with 55% of those aged 18 to 20, 14% of those 21-24, 9% of those 25-34, and 3% of those 35-54. 

Just under 1% of Quebecers aged 55 and older reported using a cannabis vape in the past year. 

Nearly half of Quebecers aged 15-20 who did use a cannabis vape said they did so less than one day per month. About one-quarter of them said they vaped one to three days a month. 

Quebec banned cannabis vape pens in 2019. Since there is no legal source for cannabis vapes in Quebec, residents told ISQ that they sourced their vapes from family and friends, from legal sources in other provinces, from illicit suppliers, and/or online. Newfoundland and Labrador had also previously banned the sale of cannabis vapes but began allowing them in 2022.

Only about 4% of the total population of Quebec has reported vaping cannabis in the past 12 months.

About half (49%) who said they had vaped cannabis in the past year reported that they did not know the amount of THC in the cannabis they primarily vaped. Younger people were more likely to know how much THC was in their vape products.

Some 46% of Quebecers aged 15 and over said they believed vaping cannabis poses a high health risk, 43% said it represents a moderate risk, and about 11% believe the vaping of cannabis carries no risk or that this risk is minimal. 

People over the age of 34 were more likely to see vaping cannabis as harmful than younger Quebecers.

The survey results come from the 2023 Quebec Cannabis Survey (EQC), collected between February and July 2023 from 13,209 people. The first results from the survey were released in October 2023.

The study also shows a slight decrease in Quebecers who reported using cannabis at least once in the past year, from 19% in 2022 to 17% in 2023. 

Most Quebecers who consume cannabis do so by smoking it (81%), while 31% reported using edibles and 23% consuming oral cannabis drops such as cannabis oils. These oils have the same active ingredient as in cannabis edibles.

About three-quarters (71%) of Quebecers over the age of 15 who consumed cannabis in the last year reported getting at least some of their cannabis from legal stores in Quebec (SQDC). 

Thirty-five percent said they got their cannabis from a family member, friend, or acquaintance, and 11% said they purchased cannabis in person from a legal source in another province. Just 6% reported purchasing cannabis from an illegal supplier.

Almost half (47%) of consumers 21 and older said they purchased their cannabis only from the SQDC in the past 12 months, while another 21% said they bought cannabis exclusively from sources other than the SQDC.

Approximately 21% of people who consumed cannabis in the 12 months preceding the survey obtained it via the Internet from a supplier other than an authorized Health Canada producer or the SQDC, which may give rise to possession of illegal cannabis.