Approximately two-thirds of cannabis users say they didn’t buy any pot in the past three months, Statistics Canada reported Thursday.

The latest report from the agency’s National Cannabis Survey offers the most comprehensive look at Canadian pot consumers’ spending habits to date.

Data shows more than 650,000 users — or 14 per cent of those surveyed — spent between $251 and $500 in the last three months on cannabis. Approximately 320,000 users, or about seven per cent, spent between $501 and $1,000, while only 138,000 users — or three per cent — spent more than $1,000.

However, according to StatCan, just because they didn’t buy it, doesn’t mean they didn’t use it.

For the infrequent cannabis users who didn’t spend a dime, the agency attributes it to the generous sharing culture of pot users.

More than 65 per cent of individuals who used cannabis once or twice in the last few months spent nothing. How often someone uses pot appears to influence how much they’re willing to spend.

The more frequently someone uses pot, the more likely they are to pay a higher price. More than 50 per cent of daily, or almost daily users, spent over $250 on cannabis.

In addition to consumer habits, the survey also offers economic projections on what will happen after the illegal-to-legal shift.

According to StatCan’s estimates, 5.4 million people are expected to purchase legal cannabis between October and December of this year. Spending on legal cannabis in Q4 could reach over $1 billion the data shows.

StatCan projects legal spending to be anywhere between $816 million and $1.02 billion, leaving illegal cannabis sales to still account for about a quarter of the entire market.

“I think most people would spend a tiny bit more than they would spend with their neighbourhood weed dealer, if they knew the product was safe,” said Brad Poulos, professor of the business of cannabis class at Ryerson.

“Some people will say, ‘oh my neighbourhood pot dealer has the best stuff.’ Well, we study this stuff and find that to be not true. What they don’t have and cannot deliver is consistency,” explains Poulos.

Approximately 1.7 million people will continue purchasing from the illicit market once legalization goes into effect on Oct. 17.

These figures are preliminary as the scope of the market and long-term economic impact will become more evident after legalization.

The National Cannabis Survey is conducted every three months throughout 2018, and will continue into 2019. The data reflects Canadians, age 15 and older and their cannabis use and behaviours. About 4.6 million Canadians aged 15 and older reported using cannabis in the past three months.

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