A recent survey suggests only 22 per cent of Nova Scotians would consider purchasing cannabis once it’s legalized.
On Friday, MQO Research released the results of a survey of 400 Nova Scotia residents. They were asked if they planned to purchase legal cannabis and whether they’d do it in a store or online.
“I didn’t really quite know what to expect in terms of what percentage of the population would consider purchasing cannabis once it was legal … That’s one of the reasons we decided to ask the question,” said Stephen Moore, MQO’s vice-president of research.
“One of the things that’s interesting to think is how is this number going to change over time. As cannabis is legalized and becomes more normalized, what happens to this number then?”
Of respondents between the ages of 18 to 34, 35 per cent said they were considering purchasing cannabis once it’s legalized. That number dipped slightly to 30 per cent for those between 35 to 54.
The number dropped to just nine per cent when pollsters asked those over the age of 55 if they planned to make pot purchases.
Moore said there were regional and gender divides. Haligonians are more open than other Nova Scotians to purchasing cannabis, with 27 per cent saying they were either very likely or somewhat likely to buy it.
More men are considering purchasing cannabis than women once it becomes legal, with 25 per cent of males and 18 per cent of females on board with the idea.
Of the 22 per cent of the overall population that intends to purchase legal cannabis, 67 per cent plan to buy their weed at a retail location and 21 per cent said they’d opt for online purchases.
“Almost seven out of 10 are willing to do so in person at a retail location, so for those who are open to purchasing it, they certainly don’t have a concern about being seen doing so,” Moore said.
Moore believes this data will serve as an important baseline as legalization moves ahead.
“This is a very large change in social policy. There aren’t too many instances where you can think of broad-based prohibitions being lifted on a particular substance or around a particular behavior,” Moore said.
“This gives us a really good idea of what that intent is, just as the legalization is getting close, and I think it’s important to have that benchmark number.”
StarMetro spoke with people in front of the Central Library in downtown Halifax to get their thoughts on the survey on Saturday.
For Naomi Tress, 32, one has to question whether people are really going to be honest in a phone survey, even about an substance that will soon be legal.
“Nobody wants to answer the phone and admit they’re going to buy weed, when right now it’s not legal. If I had to say I did a study of my friends, or colleagues at work even, it would be higher than 22 per cent. But I think that if they were to talk to a stranger, then they wouldn’t necessarily admit that,” Tress said.
She added she believes a lot more people will grow their own cannabis rather than buy it from the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, which will be distributing marijuana in the province.
Isabella Redgate, 23, also said she feels the 22 per cent number is “probably low” compared to reality.
“Personally I feel like I know a lot of adults or middle-aged people who use cannabis a lot. I probably know just as many that are younger and use cannabis,” Redgate said.
Christina Cann, 48, said she is “pro-cannabis but not a user,” and doesn’t judge those who do use marijuana.
“I would assume that (the percentage of people using) might spike and then drop off once the novelty has worn off,” Cann said. “If people want to try it, more power to them.”
The data collected for the poll was taken by telephone from April 17 to April 25, 2018 and included 400 randomly selected residents from across Nova Scotia. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
MQO also polled the other three Atlantic Provinces. The number in Newfoundland and Labrador was the same as Nova Scotia, with 22 per cent stating they were considering purchasing cannabis once legalized.
In New Brunswick, the number was 20 per cent, and it dropped to 18 per cent in Prince Edward Island.