MONTREAL -- Montrealers blazed a trail when it came to using cannabis recreationally – and many weren’t waiting for it to be legalized in 2018, according to Montreal's public health department.

At least 17 per cent of Montrealers admitted to using marijuana in 2018; the majority said they did so about three times a month.

Recreational cannabis use was highest among young adults: 38 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 said they lit up at least once in 2018, the study found.

In addition, the department found that 80 per cent of Montrealers who were getting toasted before it was legal did so while drinking alcohol.

That same number of people noted that using cannabis impaired their ability to drive safely. Nonetheless, one in 10 Montrealers admitted to getting into a vehicle with a driver who had taken a hit within two hours of getting behind the wheel.

In addition, 95 per cent of people who got high before it was legal to recreationally go green in Canada said they did so for pleasure. Sixty per cent noted they also turned to cannabis products for health reasons.

The study, Enquête québécoise sur le cannabis, found that 51 per cent of Montrealers believed the occasional toke is socially acceptable, compared to 88 per cent who said the same for alcohol.

This is the first time Montreal's public health department has provided a profile on the use of recreational cannabis before its legalization in 2018.