Health & Wellness

Is Pot Making People Less Healthy?

Nova Scotians report feeling less well, and some have said cannabis might be partly to blame


Photo: iStock/wildpixel.


According to a Statistics Canada survey, Nova Scotians weren’t feeling as healthy last as they were the year before, with more reporting poor physical and mental health. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of Nova Scotians who said their health was fair or poor rose by 10% and of those reporting fair or poor mental health by 11%.

Unlike other provinces, Nova Scotia sells liquor and cannabis at the same location through the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. In an interview with Truro News, clinical psychologist Dr. Simon Sherry said excessive use of alcohol and cannabis is likely contributing to the problem.

“I think more so than many other provinces, Nova Scotians engage in health-compromising behaviours such as excessive cannabis use or excessive alcohol use,” he said. “In some ways, Nova Scotians love life a bit too much.”

Statistics Canada’s most recent cannabis survey found that 23% per cent of Nova Scotians had reported using cannabis in the last three months, using the most in comparison to Canadians in other provinces. British Columbians trailed right behind, with 20% reporting the same.

If pot smoking is contributing to increased poor health in Nova Scotia, one would think British Columbians would also be reporting poorer health. Pot smoking is almost as common in BC, and heavy drinking increased there by 15%, but British Columbians actually reported feeling healthier. In 2018, more than 70,000 fewer people than in 2017 reported their health as fair or poor, while mental health ratings remained about the same.

Heavy drinking also dropped in Nova Scotia by 14% last year, with almost 25,000 fewer people saying they had a problem with heavy drinking. Both provinces also saw a 14% per cent decline in mood disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, mania, or dysthymia.

While cannabis use definitely impacts wellbeing, a lack of data makes it hard to correlate pot smoking with poor health. Statistics Canada’s National Cannabis Survey has been releasing statistics on cannabis use only since April, 2018.