British Columbians dropped to 8th place nationally, when it comes to using cannabis during the final quarter of 2018. (Black Press File)

British Columbia is mellowing out when it comes to using cannabis

Nova Scotia smokes rest of Canada, with almost 22 per cent usage among individuals 15 years and up

Contrary to popular perception, British Columbians are not the heaviest users of recreational marijuana, according to new figures from Statistics Canada.

That high-standing belongs to residents of Nova Scotia, where almost 22 per cent of the population (21.6 per cent) aged 15 years and up reported using cannabis during the last three months of 2018. That share amounts to about 170,400 people of the provincial population.

RELATED: Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

Just over 15 per cent of British Columbians — or 615,900 individuals aged 15 and up — reported using cannabis during the same period. That placed B.C. third from the bottom among Canada’s 10 provinces. Only Manitoba (15.1 per cent) and Quebec (13.6) per cent recorded lower usage rates than British Columbia. Notably, this figure makes a sharp drop from the previous quarter.

RELATED: StatsCan: B.C. cannabis consumption second highest in Canada

Nationally, the usage rate is 15.4 per cent – or almost 4.63 million — with a bias toward men. Almost 20 per cent of men (19.4 per cent) reported using cannabis, with 13.7 per cent of women reporting usage.

RELATED: Cannabis sales up 25% in November as overall retail sales fall 0.9%

In terms of age group, individuals aged 25 and 44 years make up the largest group, accounting for 20.5 per cent of users. Individuals aged 15 to 17 make up the second largest group with 13.7 per cent, followed by individuals aged 45 to 64, who make up 11.6 per cent of users. Seniors — individuals aged 65 years and up — account for 5.1 per cent.

Notably, 54.6 of Canadians say they have never used cannabis.

Looking at reasons for cannabis use, close to half of current users say they exclusively use cannabis for non-medical reasons. These users also tend to be male and younger, when compared to other categories of users. They also tend to use cannabis less when compared to medical users.

One in five non-medical users reported consuming cannabis daily or almost daily — a considerably smaller share than for medical users.

“Regular consumption is likely related to the use of cannabis as medication or as an effort to manage and alleviate symptoms,” Statistics Canada notes. “It is also possible that regular users develop a tolerance, requiring more frequent and/or larger doses.”

According to Statistics Canada, 83 per cent of non-medical users report that they have typically smoked the cannabis they consumed — a higher proportion than for medical users with documentation (37 per cent), medical users without documentation (58 per cent) and mixed users (73 per cent).

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