Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Cannabis Use Among Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island: Motives for Use, Substitution and Impacts of Legalization

Farrell, L. & Walsh, Z.

This project looked at motives for cannabis use among Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island living in British Columbia and Alberta, with an emphasis on assessing risk for problematic use and potential benefits of personal use to improve well-being for symptoms of chronic pain, anxiety and sleep. The researchers further investigated how cannabis use affects the use of other medications and substances, as well as perceptions of cannabis access among the Indigenous population.

Researchers observed roughly equivalent levels of medical and personal motives among the sample of Indigenous Peoples using cannabis, with a large majority of respondents reporting both medical and personal motives for use. Smoking cannabis flower was the most popular mode of use, followed by consuming edible cannabis. The use of vapes and concentrates was relatively infrequent. The most prominent motives in support of well-being were to improve sleep, reduce pain and reduce anxiety. Although respondents reported stigma around cannabis use, the legalization of cannabis was perceived to help reduce stigma. It also provided access to a greater variety of products, although price remained a barrier.

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