Researchers want to hear from northerners on cannabis, whether they use it or not

·2 min read
Statistics Canada is running a survey across the N.W.T., Nunavut and Yukon on cannabis use. (Seth Perlman/The Associated Press - image credit)
Statistics Canada is running a survey across the N.W.T., Nunavut and Yukon on cannabis use. (Seth Perlman/The Associated Press - image credit)

A big new survey on cannabis use in the three territories kicks off this week.

David Hammond, the lead researcher from the University of Waterloo's School of Public Health Sciences, which is behind the survey, said it's "the most comprehensive survey of cannabis use in the territories."

"We want to know what has changed with cannabis use [and] how many people have switched from the illegal to legal market," Hammond said.

Among other issues, the survey aim is to see how the use of cannabis, legalized in October 2018, has affected the use of other substances such as alcohol or prescription pain medication.

It's hoped the survey will reach about 22,000 households in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

In Nunavut, households will receive survey invitations in English and Inuktitut. The survey itself is also available in Inuktitut.

Data from Statistics Canada shows that in 2018, urban northerners used cannabis more frequently than their provincial counterparts.

That year, Statistics Canada found that per capita, more people in Iqaluit said they'd recently used cannabis than in any other jurisdiction: about 33 per cent said they'd used it in the last three months.

Yellowknife had the next highest percentage of recent cannabis users, with 26.8 per cent of residents, followed by Whitehorse with 23.1 per cent.

Do the survey, get $20

Invitations have gone out to almost every household in the three territories, Hammond said.

"We're paying them $20 to do the survey," he added.

Each invitation comes with a password and a special link for people to log in.

The cards should be arriving over the next two to three weeks. There will also be reminder follow-ups.

"We want people to recognize that this isn't a scam [or] some business," Hammond said. "This is health research where we're trying to get information we can get back to the territories so we decide how best to regulate cannabis."

The three territories need to know how their products are priced compared to the illegal market versus buying from a government store, he said, and what kinds of products people want.

The Nunavut government regulates cannabis purchases through two online companies under its Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission.

"While we are not directly involved in every research study conducted in Nunavut, we welcome the opportunity to receive and review Nunavut-specific data which can help to inform public policies and approaches to cannabis legislation," said Hillary Casey, the director of corporate policy for Nunavut's finance department, which oversees the commission.

Hammond said the team of researchers want to hear from people who don't use cannabis as well.

"We want to know if the numbers of folks are changing. We want to hear from people to know if they think cannabis legalization is a good idea." Hammond said. "It's not just for people who use it — we want to hear from everybody."