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Dalhousie releases study on Canadian attitudes towards cannabis‑infused food

Posted by Faculty of Management on September 26, 2017 in News

Dalhousie study finds nearly half of Canadians are interested in trying edible marijuana recreationally, but even more are concerned about risks for children

Tuesday, September 26 (Halifax, NS)--A new study from Dalhousie University found that 46% of Canadians would try cannabis-infused food products if they became available on the market. 39% would be willing to try it in a restaurant, but only 20% said that they know enough about cooking with marijuana to do it at home. However, 59% worry about the risk that legalizing the use of recreational marijuana poses for children and young adults who will have increased access to it.

The preliminary study, entitled Cannabis-infused food and Canadian consumers’ willingness to consider recreational marijuana as a food ingredient was led by Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, professor in food distribution and policy at the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University, and lead author of the well-known Canada’s Food Price Report. Dr. Simon Somogyi, associate professor in the Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie, co-authored the study.

A total of 1087 people took part in the survey, conducted in English and French over four weeks in August 2017.

The survey shows that the majority of Canadians (68%) are supportive of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, with British Columbians being the most supportive (79%) and people on the Prairies being the least (54%).

"People are interested in cooking with marijuana, but they don't yet know how,” says Sylvain Charlebois. "However, younger people and those from higher income households are more likely to feel confident in their abilities." Baked goods, oils and spices are among the products survey respondents said they'd be interested in trying. 

Earlier in September, the Ontario government announced plans for selling and distributing recreational marijuana in anticipation of legalization. They plan to prohibit the sale of so-called “edibles,” although consumers would be able to make their own. “It’s short-sighted,” says Charlebois. “Our study shows that the majority of Canadians are willing to purchase them, and edibles are Health Canada’s recommended consumption form for cannabis.”  

The survey also looked at Canadians’ perceptions of the risks involved with consuming cannabis-infused food products. 60% worried that the psychoactive effects would be too strong, and respondents, especially those with children, were concerned about the health risks for minors who might have more access to marijuana if recreational use is legalized. Only 13% considered cannabis a healthy ingredient.

Despite their curiosity, the study indicates that Canadians do not anticipate edible cannabis products taking the place of alcohol in their lives. "Almost 40% of respondents are willing to order a dish at a restaurant containing cannabis, but only a quarter believe it would replace an alcoholic drink," says Simon Somogyi. This should be of comfort to the liquor industry which may be concerned that cannabis could be a direct competitor for its products once it becomes legal.”

Media contact:

Sylvain Charlebois, Dean of the Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University
902-222-4142 (cell)