Young people are drinking less and smoking more weed due to COVID-19

Published Nov 6, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / rez-art

We’re all stressed out these days, as COVID-19 maintains a firm grip on our lives, limiting things like social interactions and fun outings while keeping many of us working from home, and as a result, some experts predicted an uptick in substance use. To some extent, that might seem to make sense. After all, we’re spending more time at home than ever before, but according to Weedmaps and the Global Drug Survey, there’s been a mixed response to the sudden lockdown, and cannabis use seems to be on the rise.

The Global Drug Survey

The Global Drug Survey took responses from over 55 000 participants for two months (May and June). While some people seemed to increase their cannabis or alcohol use, most decreased it due to a lack of large scale events like nightclubs, conferences, festivals, or concerts. The same responses rolled in from participants that spanned 171 countries worldwide when consumers were questioned about changes they had made to their consumption habits in April and May.

39% of the survey respondents claimed to drink more alcohol than they did before lockdown became necessary, but 37% said that they were drinking booze far less frequently.  49% of participants reportedly increased their cannabis use during that same time, with 66% of them citing boredom and having more time as the main reason for the change. 55% who used cannabis while they were alone said they were far more likely to get high alone now than they were before the pandemic.

Reasons for this change in behaviour

These results go against virtually every narrative the media has been trying to push since the very beginning of legalization, as cannabis is not treated in the same way as alcohol. Now that more people are spending time along at home, they don’t want to get plastered all by themselves. Instead, many are reaching for the green as a way to unwind, relax, and pass the time, something that could have been easily predicted based on past research.

Is the increase in cannabis use from drinkers making the switch?

It seems like somewhere around half of the increase in cannabis sales is due to consumers who used to prefer alcohol, making the switch over to a healthier greener option, which means that the market is experiencing a substantial influx of brand new substance consumers too. The most significant most apparent trend of passing off alcohol for weed was among young people (aged19-29), which is proof that this latest generation is far more accepting of cannabis than those who came before them.

Lonely stoners

It’s so great to see that so many people can use the benefits of cannabis to get through this incredibly difficult time. Still, we need to support these consumers once the lockdown restrictions finally lift, and were able to socialize once again. Substance use including that of cannabis can be addictive, and if we become too reliant on its company rather than other human beings, it can take us down a dark path that is difficult to climb out of.

Canada treats alcohol like its safer than pot and that must change

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