Marijuana Addiction Rate in Canada – Understanding Cannabis Addiction

Marijuana Addiction Rate in Canada – Understanding Cannabis Addiction

Marijuana, commonly known as weed or pot, is among the most used and abused drugs in Canada. It is the second most commonly used substance in Canada behind alcohol. As of 2020, more than 15% of Canadians over the age of 15 had used marijuana in the last 12 months. However, the growing social acceptance of marijuana has contributed to a denial of substance abuse and addiction. Heavy frequent and daily marijuana has a large role to play in addiction and physical dependency. Therefore, this article will provide useful and practical information in regards to the marijuana addiction rates in Canada. 

Marijuana Addiction in Canada

History, Controversy, Legality

Originating in Asia, the cannabis plant has been used for a variety of reasons. Originally, it was used medically before becoming popular for recreational use. In Canada, it wasn’t until 1923 that it was declared a prohibited drug under the Act to Prohibit the Improper Use of Opium and other Drugs. This change in law was a response to the influence that marijuana has on the brain and cognitive functioning. 

Due to marijuana’s ability to alter an individual’s ability to function, there has been some controversy over its use. While individuals may experience different symptoms based on history and strain, it has created new concerns around impaired driving. Additionally, the legalization of marijuana in Canada on October 17th of 2018 had the goals of keeping the substance away from children and revenue away from illegal sellers. However, it has also resulted in more Canadians using the substance and a 120% increase in retail sales. While there has been a drop in the criminalization of marijuana, an increase in consumption can result in a rising marijuana addiction rate.

Marijuana Use Rates in Canada’s Provinces

marijuana use

Understanding the use rate of marijuana use is an important part of determining the marijuana addiction rate. This is because approximately 9%-17% of individuals that use cannabis will develop an addiction to it. Therefore, if the use rates are higher in a specific area, it is likely that the marijuana addiction rate will also be higher. 

Province Approximate Marijuana Use Rate (2020)
Nova Scotia 27%
British Columbia 25%
Ontario 23%
Saskatchewan 14%
Quebec 10.6%


The Danger of Marijuana Addiction Among Younger Population 

The marijuana addiction rate and use of the substance among Canadian youth continue to increase. In 2016, 16.7% of students were found to have used the substance in the last 12 months, which increased to 18.1% in 2018-2019. Furthermore, Canadian youth that partakes in frequent or heavy marijuana use is at risk of developing an addiction. It is estimated that 1 in 6 teens will develop a cannabis use disorder. 

Not only are youth at risk of developing an addiction, but it can also have a detrimental physical impact. One of the main concerns associated with marijuana use and the younger population is the negative impact it can have on the brain. The brain continues to develop into the early ’20s, but can be stunted due to the effect that marijuana has on the brain’s chemical receptors. 

An important step in understanding marijuana addiction among youth is the potential cause or source of addiction. However, there is no single reason as to why a young person may choose to use marijuana. Some reasons include:

  • Social pressure to fit in with peers
  • To cope with a mental disorder (anxiety or depression)
  • To help them sleep
  • Dealing with trauma 

Pot Addiction Treatment & Resources

pot addiction

While marijuana may not be as physically addictive as other substances, psychological addiction can pose a number of challenges. Therefore, stopping the use of the substance can cause a number of withdrawal effects, including anxiety, insomnia, and irritability.

There are many options available to those dealing with marijuana addiction in need of pot addiction treatment including:

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy
  • Treatment for other mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression
  • Support Groups
  • Marijuana Anonymous (MA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

There are also a number of resources available to battle addiction and decrease the marijuana addiction rate:

The Foundry 

Foundry offers services and support to people aged 12-24 across B.C. They have information and tools for mental health, substance use, and can offer online and telephone support. 

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction provides guidance on substance use in Canada through evidence-based information. 


HeretoHelp is seven mental health and addictions non-profit agents working together to help individuals prevent and manage mental health and substance use problems. 


Changes in cannabis use laws and marijuana addiction rates can make finding answers difficult. Here are answers to questions asked by Canadians.

How can I help a friend who is addicted to cannabis?

It can be a difficult task if they do not believe they are addicted. Encourage them to understand how their cannabis use has impacted their life. Furthermore, providing them with numerous resources will enable them to seek help and get sober.

Is cannabis as hazardous as cigarettes?

Yes, cannabis has a similar effect on the lungs to tobacco smoke. This means that children are more susceptible to damage as their lungs are still developing. 

Is marijuana healthier than alcohol?

There is no clear answer, as there are negative health effects to both. Both can have long-term physical effects and cause lasting damage to internal organs, especially with heavy or frequent use. 

What happens if I don’t follow the laws for marijuana use in Canada?

You could:

  • Receive a ticket 
  • Be fined up to $100,000
  • Possible jail time for up to 14 years


marijuana addiction

Some people may think marijuana addiction is not real, and therefore treatment is unnecessary. However, it is important that individuals receive the help they need, and they do not battle addiction alone. Otherwise, the marijuana addiction rate in Canada will continue to increase. In addition to this article, resources at Andy Bhatti Intervention Services can assist you in overcoming a marijuana addiction.

Other Resources:

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