Survey: Canadians supportive of cannabis retail stores in their community

| David Brown

New research from US-based Weedmaps into the Canadian cannabis market shows that Canadians are now more likely to support the presence of cannabis retail stores in their community.

The research, released today, comes from a commissioned survey of 2,000 Canadians asking an array of questions relating to cannabis and legalization. 

In regard to cannabis retail stores, the survey found that 40% of Canadians support legal cannabis stores in their communities, while 25% oppose them, and 35% neither support nor oppose them. In addition, Canadians with stores in their community were more likely to be supportive of them.

We are not seeing the backlash and negativity once expected when new retail stores open in neighbourhoods.

Bridget Hennessey, Weedmaps

“What we found is that familiarity with cannabis retail engenders support. We are not seeing the backlash and negativity once expected when new retail stores open in neighbourhoods,” said Bridget Hennessey, VP of Government Relations, Weedmaps. “Canadians with a cannabis store in their community are nearly twice as likely to express support for these stores than those who don’t have a store in their community. We’re also pleased to see that many of those who have visited retail locations described their experience as being a positive one.”

The online survey was conducted by Canadian-based consulting group Navigator from January 13 to 19, 2021, fielding questions from Canadians who were of legal age in their province. 

In addition to the positive feedback in regard to cannabis retail stores, the survey also asked an array of other questions about legalization, consumption and purchasing habits, preferred products, and their overall knowledge of cannabis and the cannabis sector. 

Attitudes about legalization and the industry

Although Canadians were split in their impression of the legal cannabis sector—with 35% expressing a positive impression and another 32% expressing a negative one—53% of respondents said they support legalization, with only 24% being opposed. 

Younger people tended to be more supportive of both the industry and of legalization, as were male respondents. Those in Quebec were the least likely to be supportive of either. 

Consumption habits

Of the 80% of cannabis users who reported consuming cannabis prior to its legalization on October 17, 2018, 40% say their consumption has increased since that time, while 37% say their consumption has increased during the pandemic. This has been reflected in several other surveys as well, including Stats Canada.

The survey also showed that most consumers report using edibles or smoking cannabis (73% and 71%, respectively). Similar to many other surveys, men were more likely to consume cannabis than women, use tends to decrease with age, and Quebec residents said they were the least likely to consume. 

Purchasing Behaviours 

Since legalization, 30% of respondents said they have purchased legal cannabis, while 10% have purchased cannabis through illicit channels. Only 7% of cannabis consumers said they only purchase from illicit channels. 

Consumers prefer purchasing cannabis in person and many consumers say they are willing to drive up to 10km to visit a store, although many say they prefer buying online.  

Support for community cannabis stores, lounges

In regard to the support for legal cannabis stores, the presence of legal stores matters. Those who are aware of a legal store in their community were more likely to have a positive impression of them (47%), while those unaware of any in their community were more likely to have a negative impression (24%). 

Of the 70% of survey respondents who said they were aware of a cannabis store in their community, 74% said they had not changed their opinion about legalization because of those stores. More than half (58%) said they believe legal cannabis store owners have proven to be law-abiding, good members of their communities whose presence has not negatively impacted their neighbourhoods. 

Support for cannabis lounges or cafes, though, saw less support, with 37% in support, 32% opposed, and 31% being neutral. 

Product knowledge, brand loyalty

Only 27% of respondents said they were knowledgeable about cannabis, with women and older Canadians being more likely to say they were not knowledgeable about the products or plant. Past-year consumers were slightly more confident in their knowledge, at 49%.

Of those past-year consumers, Cannabis users were just as likely to try new brands (39%) as they were to have brand loyalty (40%), and only 45% of cannabis purchasers said they were confident in their ability to differentiate between strands, brand or products of cannabis.