By Alfa · Jul 24, 2004 · ·
  1. Alfa

    TORONTO (CP) - It seems more Canadians than ever are going to pot -
    smoking up, toking up and generally embracing the sweet weed.

    In fact, the proportion of Canadians who admit to indulging in
    marijuana or hashish almost doubled over 13 years - and the highest
    rates of use were among teens, a report released Wednesday by
    Statistics Canada suggests.

    That translates into about three million Canadians, or 12.2 per cent,
    who used cannabis at least once in the previous year, the federal
    agency said in its 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey. In 1989, the
    figure was 6.5 per cent.

    But the increase wasn't confined to just cannabis, which includes
    marijuana, hashish and hash oil. The survey also found that a higher
    proportion of Canadians were taking other illegal drugs: cocaine or
    crack, ecstasy, LSD and other hallucinogens, amphetamines (speed), and

    Overall, 2.4 per cent of the survey's almost 37,000 respondents, all
    aged 15 or older, reported using at least one of these other drugs in
    the previous year, up from 1.6 per cent in 1994.

    And 1.3 per cent, or an estimated 321,000 Canadians, had used cocaine
    or crack, making it the most commonly used of these illicit, harder

    Cannabis use was most prevalent among young people, and it peaked in
    the late teens.

    Almost four of every 10 teens aged 18 or 19 reported having smoked pot
    or hash in the previous year. The proportion among 15- to 17-year-olds
    was three in 10.

    The hike in marijuana's popularity comes as no surprise to Edward
    Adlaf, a research scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental
    Health in Toronto, which has reported similar trends.

    "We've been finding during the '90s among students - and these are
    seventh graders to 12th graders - that fewer and fewer students
    perceive great risk in using cannabis," said Adlaf.

    A loosening-up in attitudes towards pot also has likely contributed to
    more people smoking up - or admitting that they do. An Ipsos-Reid poll
    in May 2003 suggested 55 per cent of Canadians thought smoking pot
    should not be a criminal offence.

    Students say pot is easy to come by, and police are reporting
    increased seizures of marijuana plants.

    This survey was done in 2002, the year before an Ontario court judge
    made a precedent-setting ruling that possessing a small amount of pot
    was not illegal.

    Prime Minister Paul Martin said his government is committed to
    marijuana decriminalization and will reintroduce legislation after
    Parliament resumes in October.

    Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, while concerned about the reported rise
    in drug use, said Wednesday he's unsure whether arguments that
    decriminalization would further increase marijuana use "have any validity."

    "My view is that, if you make something illegal, some people are more
    attracted to it," he said. "It's just the high in getting something
    in a stealth(y) fashion ... If you allow people to possess it in small

    quantities for personal use, the allure kind of disappears for some."

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  1. Alfa

    But Only One in 10 Saskatchewan Residents Admits to Marijuana Use

    OTTAWA -- Canada is in no danger of turning into a nation of potheads.
    But the number of Canadians, especially younger ones, who admit to
    indulging in marijuana and hashish almost doubled over a 13-year
    period, according to a new Statistics Canada report.

    The federal agency says about three million Canadians aged 15 and
    older, or 12.2 per cent, admitted in 2002 to using the two cannabis
    substances in the previous 12 months. This was up from 6.5 per cent
    who reported use of cannabis in 1989, and 7.4 per cent in 1994.

    Pot use peaked among 18 and 19 year olds. Almost four in 10 -- 38 per
    cent -- reported using marijuana and hashish in the previous year.

    Among those ages 15 through 17, the rate was 29 per cent, or almost
    three in 10.

    Usage drops off the older Canadians get. It drops to six per cent
    among those 45 to 54 years of age, and virtually disappears after age

    Men in almost all age groups were more likely to use marijuana and
    hash than women.

    Closer to home, 10 per cent of Saskatchewan residents, 15 years or
    older, admitted to using cannabis in 2002 -- a three per cent increase
    from 1994, according to the study.

    People may have been more willing to admit using cannabis when
    responding to survey questions in 2002 than they were in 1989 or 1994
    surveys, said Michael Tjepkema, a Statistics Canada analyst.

    The data also may reflect changing attitudes about drug use, he

    "There was a survey of Ontario high school students and it found that
    the risk perceptions about cannabis have weakened since the early
    1990s," Tjepkema said. "That same study also found that the
    availability of cannabis has increased since 1989."

    He noted that lifetime use of cannabis or other illicit drugs in
    Saskatchewan is below the national average. In every province except
    Manitoba, the level of cannabis use was higher in 2002 than in 1994.

    Meanwhile, the head of a group advocating regulated legalization of
    marijuana said the trend exposes the ludicrousness of existing laws
    that make possession of pot a criminal offence.

    "The legal status of the drug has very little to do with whether
    people use it," said Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation for
    Drug Policy. "All we're doing is continuing to criminalize millions
    and millions of Canadians. I mean three million Canadians have used it
    in the past year, are they really criminals?"

    Oscapella says police resources are being wasted on chasing down
    cannabis offenders instead of serious criminals, and it's time for the
    federal Liberals to at least enact proposed legislation to
    decriminalize possession of less than 15 grams of pot.

    The legislation, which has prompted fierce opposition, is in

    The Statscan study, based on data from the Canadian Community Health
    Survey, also showed Canadians were significantly less likely to use
    cocaine/crack, ecstasy, LSD, speed/amphetamines, and heroin.

    Only 2.4 per cent of Canadians aged 15 or older had used at least one
    of those drugs in the year before the survey, up from 1.6 per cent in

    Crack/cocaine was the drug of choice for most, about 321,000 Canadians
    or 1.3 per cent.

    Among the three million who admitted to using cannabis in the year
    before the survey, close to half used the drug less than once a month.
    One in 10 reported weekly use, and another 10 per cent reported daily
    use. As a percentage of the total population aged 15 or older, 1.1 per
    cent of Canadians used cannabis daily, 2.8 per cent more than once a
    week, and 3.9 per cent at least once a week, and six per cent at least
    once a month, the report said.

    The rates of usage were higher than the national average of 12.2 in
    four provinces, including British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia and
    Alberta. British Columbia had the highest rate at 16 per cent .

    Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba had the
    lowest rate, all coming in at nine per cent.

    The study also reported the rate of cannabis-related drug offences
    increased from 119 to 223 per 100,000 population between 1991 and
    2002. Most of the offences -- 72 per cent -- involved possession.
    Other charges included trafficking, production and importation.
    British Columbia had the highest rate of cannabis offences.
  2. Alfa

    National statistics showing marijuana use has almost doubled over a
    13-year period, confirming our province remains Canada's pot capital,
    should be a bad trip for B.C. parents.

    It's not just that their sons and daughters are the likeliest in
    Canada to be charged with cannabis-related criminal offences.

    It's that young British Columbians, bombarded with Woodstock-era
    banter about toking up in Vansterdam, still appear to know little of
    the health dangers of deeply inhaling their potent, cancer-linked drug.

    Make no mistake, it's young folks who are the big pot users. According
    to Statistics Canada, nearly 40 per cent of Canada's 18- and
    19-year-olds reported using cannabis in the previous year. And, as
    noted in an article on marijuana use in Holland in Elsevier magazine,
    cannabis is the only drug where the highest number of users are those
    at school.

    "Teenagers tell tales of smoking dope during their breaks and teachers
    looking the other way," write Gerlof Leistra and Simon Rozendaal in
    the article, detailing the failure of the lengthy Dutch experiment
    with going soft on soft drugs.

    Actually, authorities in Holland seem a lot like those in Canada.
    They've missed no opportunity to warn citizens in the strongest terms
    of the health dangers of tobacco and alcohol. Yet they've managed to
    make a complete hash of warning them about cannabis.

    This despite research published in such scientific journals as Nature,
    the British Medical Journal and the Journal of the American Medical
    Association detailing the risks of long-term cannabis use.

    Today's high-strength, home-grown product has long ago crossed over
    the virtual border between soft and hard drugs.

    "It has also been demonstrated that cannabis contains more
    carcinogenic substances than does tobacco," says the Elsevier article,
    reprinted in the April edition of Reader's Digest.

    Now, it used to be assumed that cannabis was non-addictive. But an
    article this June in the London Observer newspaper observes that an
    increasing number of Britons are becoming dependent on it.

    "There is also increasing clinical evidence linking cannabis use to
    mental illness, particularly schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety and
    depression," it says.

    Yesterday's Statistics Canada figures show B.C has the highest rate of
    cannabis use in the nation.

    Indeed, with an increasingly pushy pot lobby, drug-friendly
    politicians and a compliant media, we're well on the way to mirroring
    the Dutch experience.

    But I feel we may find the grass isn't always greener. And we may well
    wind up with egg, or something far more rotten, on our face.
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