Cannabis Use, Harms and Perceived Risk among Canadian Students

It is clearly important to understand cannabis use by and harms to young people. With the recent legalization of non-medical cannabis use in Canada, youth and cannabis are a continued area of focus for prevention and harm reduction. Understanding use and harms helps ensure targeted policies, programs and services that effectively prevent cannabis use and reduce harm among young people.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), in collaboration with the Student Drug Use Survey Working Group, released a new report, Cannabis Use, Harms and Perceived Risks among Canadian Students. This report compiles data from five provincial and two national surveys on available indicators of cannabis use, harms and perceived risk among students in grades 7 to 12, for survey cycles occurring between 2007 and 2015.

Cannabis Use, Harms and Perceived Risks among Canadian Students shows that, among the included surveys:

  • Overall cannabis use decreased between 2007 and 2015. This decrease was valid when examining daily, monthly/past month and past year cannabis use.

  • Among students in grades 7 to 12, surveyed between 2012 and 2015, up to one-third reported using cannabis in the past year.

  • More frequent cannabis use (daily, monthly/past month) was more likely to be reported by male students.

  • Approximately one in five students who used cannabis drove a motorized vehicle after cannabis use. There is insufficient evidence to determine trends and this is an important knowledge gap to address.

Greater consistency in the cannabis indicators collected across provinces and territories is needed to better understand the impact of cannabis legalization on Canadian students in grades 7 to 12. This report is available through the Student Drug Use webpage on CCSA’s website.