Cannabis use and misuse in the year following recreational cannabis legalization in Canada: A longitudinal observational cohort study of community adults in Ontario
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BACKGROUND: Canada legalized cannabis for non-medical purposes federally in October 2018. This study examined changes in cannabis use over the following year in a sample of general community adults. A secondary aim was to examine forecasted cannabis use following legalization in relation to actual post-legalization cannabis use. METHODS: Participants were 1502 community adults (61 % female; age M = 34.60 ± 13.95), with approximately half reporting any cannabis use in the six months prior to legalization (Cannabis+ group [48 %]/Cannabis- group [52 %]). Self-report assessments were conducted in the month before cannabis legalization, 6-months post-legalization and 12-months post-legalization. Primary outcomes were frequency of cannabis use, grams of dried flower cannabis on days used, and level of misuse (Cannabis Use Disorder Identification Test - Revised). Secondary analyses examined pre-legalization personal forecasts in relation to post-legalization cannabis use. RESULTS: Statistically significant main effects of time (ps<.001), cannabis use status (ps<.001), and time × cannabis use status interactions (ps<.001) were present for cannabis frequency, quantity, and level of misuse. In each case, the interactions reflected significant decreases in the Cannabis+ group, but significant increases in the Cannabis- group. Approximately 15 % of participants erroneously forecasted their personal post-legalization cannabis use, with discrepancies most commonly being individuals who were not using prior to legalization subsequently using cannabis. CONCLUSIONS: In this cohort of community adults, we observed significant changes over the first year following Canadian legalization, with divergent trajectories based on pre-legalization cannabis use. These findings suggest multifarious impacts of legalization in adults, with meaningfully different trajectories among subgroups.
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