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Quebecers Appear to be Consuming More Weed and Snacks During the COVID-19 Crisis

But perhaps surprisingly, alcohol consumption hasn’t really increased

A pile of marijuana buds in front of choc-chip cookies. Shutterstock

New polls released this week suggest that the ongoing coronavirus crisis is prompting Quebecers to consume more marijuana and junk food.

The Association pour la santé publique du Québec (ASPQ) recently conducted a survey on changing consumption habits in the province,

The survey asked over 1,000 respondents whether they had changed their consumption habits since the start of coronavirus-related restrictions on public life in Quebec (in mid-March).

29 percent — almost a third — said they were consuming more cannabis, and a chunk of those (13% of all respondents) said they were consuming “a lot” more.

Meanwhile, a similar proportion (31 percent) said they were eating more junk food (“malbouffe”) than before mid-March, with the poll loosely defining that food group as including chips, candy, chocolate, and fried foods. Younger people (aged 18 to 34) were most likely to report this change to their diet. Meanwhile, 17 percent said they had reduced their consumption of those food groups.

While there are obvious jokes about munchies to be made about the roughly equal increases in consumption of weed and snacks, the ASPQ did not address whether the two were correlated.

However, speaking to the Gazette, a representative for the association did identify another explanation for why candy and chips might be more popular right now: the survey also reports that 40 percent of respondents have either lost sleep or had lower-quality sleep since the pandemic started moving into the province in March. According to a spokesperson, there are a number of studies that have drawn links between a lack of sleep and increased consumption of fatty foods.

Meanwhile, one vice that hasn’t really become more prevalent is alcohol consumption. The same study suggested that 22 percent of Quebecers have increased their alcohol consumption since mid-March (and almost all of those reported only small increases), but 17 percent had decreased it, with a solid majority reporting no change to their drinking habits.

Another study that Quebec nonprofit Éduc’alcool conducted last week drew similar conclusions — 69 percent of people it polled hadn’t changed their drinking habits, 18 percent were drinking more, and 14 percent were drinking less.

These results may seem surprising given the interminable lines at many SAQ stores in Montreal and beyond. However, those lines aren’t necessarily an indication of increased drinking: rather, with bars and dine-in restaurants all closed, the number of businesses selling alcohol has been drastically cut, driving a higher concentration of people to the SAQ.

So: it seems like people are drinking around the same amount, but entirely at home. Quebecers may be following premier Francois Legault’s suggestion to have a glass of wine to relax, but most of them aren’t chugging the whole bottle.