Canada Tracked Cannabis Use by Analyzing Toilet Water. Here Are the Results.

Earlier this year, Stats Canada wanted to figure out exactly how much cannabis was being consumed in the country so that they could gauge the size of the illegal marijuana market ahead of legalization. Normally, statisticians use polls to collect data, but since cannabis is still highly stigmatized, Stats Canada couldn't rely on people being forthcoming about their cannabis use.

So instead of using the phone, the Stats Canada team turned to the nation's toilets. From March through August of 2018, Stats Canada analyzed the wastewater of five cities: Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto. Analysts tested sewage samples to detect amounts of THC-COOH - a metabolite produced by people after they consume cannabis' psychoactive compound THC.

Here are the results.

Total Amount of Cannabis Consumed

Montreal topped the list in terms of the sheer amount of THC-COOH found in the city's sewage. Toronto and Vancouver came in second and third respectively while Edmonton and Halifax were fourth and fifth. Of course, that doesn't mean Montreal has more cannabis consumers than anywhere else in Canada because those high numbers of THC-COOH could be getting skewed by a handful of heavy consumers. 

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Amount of Cannabis Consumed Per Capita

The city that consumes the most cannabis per capita is also the smallest city included in the study. That's right, Halifax came in first, leaving Vancouver in the dust. British Columbia has the reputation as the top cannabis producing and consuming province in Canada, but Vancouver does not live up to the hype, according to Stats Can, which saw BC's largest city place dead last on the list.

Montreal came in second, while Toronto, and Edmonton took the third and fourth spots on the list of the most cannabis consumed per capita. 

What Did We Learn?

First off, it's important to recognize that this particular project is still in it's early stages, and Stats Can admits there is a large margin of error in their data. Additionally, all of this data was collected previous to Canada's nationwide legalization of cannabis, and numbers of subject to change as the substance becomes increasingly normalized. And of course, the study only looked at five cities, and the findings may not be representative of provinces or regions they're situated in.

But most importantly, it looks like Atlantic Canadian Kush might just be giving the supposedly 'world famous' BC Bud a run for it's money.


This article is brought to you by Eve Farms. CBD is all the rage these days, but in fact, the non-intoxicating cannabinoid — reportedly useful in quelling seizures, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, pain, and other ailments — works better when it's in the presence of THC, the cannabis plant's primary, psychoactive compound. That's thanks to the entourage effect: the symbiotic relationship among all the compounds in cannabis, causing each of them to work better when they're in the presence of the others. According to Dr. Ethan Russo, who wrote the research paper Taming THC, a 1:1 ratio of CBD:THC is more effective for pain management.

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