Men’s cannabis use increasing twice as fast as women’s. Here’s why.

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The amount of men in Canada using cannabis since legalization is increasing at almost double the rate of women, according to a recent government survey.

Since legalization took place this past October, the percentage of men in Canada who’ve used cannabis in the past three months increased by 3.3 percent. The increase for women was 1.7 percent.

The report also shows the overall rate of men using cannabis to be 57 percent higher than the rate of women.

This trend echoes a 2018 report by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, where the rates of men using marijuana post-legalization increased at twice the rate of women.

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Female-focused cannabis brand Van der Pop and Canadian Viewpoint Inc. (CVI) partnered to do a 2017 survey of 1,530 women across Canada and the U.S. to better understand the role cannabis plays in the lives of women. It showed that 70 percent of women believe cannabis use carries a stigma, and that 66 percent hide their use. Van Der Pop founder and CCO April Strong says the stigma continues to persist.

“There’s not enough of a difference for me to believe that legalization quelles concerns around cannabis for women,” says Strong, whose research shows women feel similar concerns about cannabis in both legal and non-legal jurisdictions.

“What they are facing is a societal stigma. For some, they are a mom that chooses to consume cannabis,” says Strong. “There may not be any judgment around them, but they still feel it themselves.”

Strong’s survey also found 39 percent of women don’t try cannabis because they don’t like the idea of smoking. “They don’t want to combust flower and inhale it, but they don’t have other choices” she said. She thinks other options, like vaporizers, are too expensive for those who just want to test it out.  

Strong says this will change once the Canadian government legalizes cannabis edibles and concentrates in October, as products they are more familiar with, such as topical creams and oils that are infused with THC or CBD, are put onto the market.

A number of other women-focused cannabis companies across Canada have begun to appear, appealing to the wellness and lifestyle market. Irisa is creating “cannabis products that integrate seamlessly into everyday wellness and self-care routines,” including a line of low-dose oils.

However, some research shows evidence that the cannabis use gender-gap is beginning to thin out.

“We are seeing this growing female demographics of medical cannabis users,” said Dr. Ziva Cooper, research director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative during a talk in Toronto for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“In the past, there have been a 2:1 ratio of men to women,” she said. “Now we are starting to see a one to one ratio of men to women who are using cannabis for therapeutic purposes,” she said, referring evidence from recent studies in Colorado and California.

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