The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit has released eight key findings from its fall 2018 Community Cannabis Survey.

The survey received 961 responses from individuals aged 16 and older living in the Nipissing and Parry Sound districts. The median age of respondents was 44.

The eight key findings show that respondents reported higher cannabis use than the local population. The local population refers to people who live within the health unit region and who completed the Canadian Community Health Survey between 2009 and 2012.

A majority of the respondents who use cannabis said they first tried it a young age, but only a few said they’d give it to someone younger than 19. Many of the survey respondents who reported cannabis use in the last year were daily or almost daily users.

Nearly a third also smoked tobacco or e-cigarettes at the same time they used cannabis, several reported driving under the influence or being in a vehicle with a driver under the influence of cannabis. A large number of survey respondents were limited in their knowledge about cannabis, and most had not heard of Canada’s Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines.

The health unit says the goal of the survey was to learn about respondents’ recreational cannabis use, attitudes towards cannabis, and knowledge of harm reduction messages related to cannabis.

All survey data was collected before recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada, on October 17, 2018, which, the health unit says means the results can be used to evaluate the local impacts of cannabis legalization. Information collected through this survey can also inform local cannabis-related initiatives and resources.

“The report’s results will help to drive public health activities, including increased community education around cannabis and its effects,” said Auburn Larose, Epidemiologist.

The full report can be found on the health unit’s website.