P.E.I. public health wants Islanders to take 2019 cannabis survey

P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office says it's seeing fewer Islanders responding to its cannabis health survey than expected this year. 

The first cannabis survey, conducted by the province in August 2018 — just months before legalization — saw about 4,300 respondents. 

There have been too few responses from adults aged 55 and over in Prince and Kings counties as well as men across the Island, for the province to gather a representative sample, said Laura Lee Noonan, manager of health promotion with P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office. 

"The number of respondents has been quite a bit lower than this time last year. We have about 1,100 Islanders who have completed the survey," said Noonan. 

The survey was released Aug. 1 and Islanders can take it until Sept. 16.

It aims to provide insight into Islanders' attitudes toward cannabis, and cannabis consumption on P.E.I.

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Attitudes after legalization

"Now that cannabis has been legalized perhaps there's not as much interest in people sharing their attitudes and their knowledge about cannabis itself," Noonan said. 

While the climate surrounding attitudes toward cannabis on the Island may have changed, the questions haven't, she said. 

"What we want to be able to do is to measure the difference in pre-legalization and legalization of cannabis," Noonan said. 

We'd like to monitor and see if the attitudes and knowledge about the product are changing. — Laura Lee Noonan, P.E.I. Chief Public Health Office

The province is hoping to measure the possible impact from its public education on cannabis consumption and awareness campaigns across P.E.I. through the responses of its second survey. 

"We also feel that it's really important to do research on the effect of legalization of cannabis for non-medical purposes on P.E.I., and we'd like to monitor and see if the attitudes and knowledge about the product are changing across the population," she said. 

The information from the survey is important, Noonan said, as it could help develop health and safety programs and services for Islanders. 

Aiming for similar numbers

"We know from the last survey results that cannabis use is common on P.E.I. And Islanders did indicate that potentially they would purchase cannabis if it became legalized, so we know it is likely to increase," she said. 

In the first survey, more than half of Islanders who responded said they had used cannabis before it was legalized.

Public health is aiming to have a similar number of respondents to last year and encourages Islanders to take the survey. 

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