Older Canadians represent a growing segment of the Canadian pot market, but seniors in Sidney will have to wait to purchase cannabis after council denied the town’s first application. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Older Canadians represent a growing segment of the pot market

Some 1.4 million Canadians purchased their cannabis from a legal source

A growing number of the five million Canadians who used cannabis in the third quarter of 2019 were senior citizens, according to new figures from Statistics Canada.

While seniors are still less likely to consume cannabis than younger counterparts, cannabis consumption among seniors has been increasing at a much faster pace than among other age groups.

In 2012, less than one per cent of seniors (some 40,000) reported using cannabis. Estimates from 2019 show more than 400,000 seniors have used cannabis in the past three months.

“The increasing popularity of cannabis among older adults has also contributed to an increase in the average age of cannabis users, which has risen from 29.4 years in 2004 to 38.1 in 2019,” according to the latest edition of the National Cannabis Survey.

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It reports about 578,000 new cannabis users during the second and third quarters of this year. While 10 per cent of those users were aged 25 to 44, new consumers aged 65 and older accounted for almost 30 per cent — 27 per cent to be precise. Seniors were more likely to use cannabis for medical reasons, and they were more likely to source their cannabis from legal sources.

As a whole, more and more Canadians are purchasing from legal sources. An estimated 28 per cent of cannabis users, some 1.4 million Canadians, reported they obtain their consumed cannabis from a legal source. That is up from 10 per cent a year earlier and rising. During the second and third quarters of 2019, 53 per cent of users say they purchased their cannabis from a legal source.

The figures suggest a growing market for legal cannabis among seniors, a prospect with local implications, as the Saanich Peninsula as its three municipalities — Sidney, North Saanich and Central Saanich — are among the oldest in Canada.

Sidney has a median age of 59.8, North Saanich has a median age of 56.2, while Central Saanich has a median age of 50.4.

Notably though, Central Saanich is the only community that has so far approved a legal cannabis outlet. Sidney, the oldest of the three communities, recently rejected an application from Happy Buddha Cannabis.


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