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10 Million Have Smoked Up: StatsCan.

By admin | July 23, 2004

Wed, 21 Jul 2004
by CBC News Online staff.

The proportion of Canadians age 15 or older who say they’ve used marijuana or hashish has nearly doubled in 13 years, a new Statistics Canada report says.

It appeared on the agency’s web site Wednesday, the same day that Prime Minister Paul Martin promised to re-introduce legislation that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

It says an estimated three million people reported using cannabis at least once in the year before the survey was conducted in 2002.

That represents 12.2 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older. The figure is up from 6.5 per cent in 1989.

According to the study, more than 10 million people, or 41.3 per cent of the population aged 15 or older, reported trying marijuana or hashish at least once in their lifetime.

Edward Adlaf, a research scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, told CBC News Online that while the total number of people who have tried cannabis may be large, the findings have to be taken in context.

“What we should keep in mind is that the majority of those who used it report using it only once,” he said.

One-time users

According to the study, if one-time users are excluded, the proportion of Canadians who have tried cannabis would be 32 per cent.

About 47 per cent of those who had used cannabis in the previous year said they did it less than once a month. About 10 per cent reported they had used it on a weekly basis, while another 10 per cent reported daily use.

Men were the biggest users. According to the survey, 15.5 per cent reported cannabis use, compared with 9.1 per cent of women.

The study’s author, Michael Tjepkema, says one reason for the increase could be changing attitudes among teens about the risk of using cannabis.

Edward Adlaf said the study raises concerns about heavy users of any age.

He estimates that about five per cent of people use cannabis at a level that causes problems, particularly respiratory ailments.

Since the number of cannabis users has nearly doubled in Canada, the number of people experiencing related problems has also doubled, he said.

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