Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jul 2004
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2004 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Pamela Cowan, Leader-Post
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Ten per cent of Saskatchewan residents, 15 years or older, admitted to
using cannabis in 2002 -- a three per cent increase from 1994,
according to a Statistics Canada study released Wednesday.

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."

The number of Canadians, 15 years or older, who reported using
cannabis nearly doubled in the past 13 years, with the highest rates
among teenagers, reported Statistics Canada.

According to the study, 6.5 per cent of Canadians reported using
cannabis in 1989, 7.4 per cent in 1994 and by 2002 the proportion
reached 12.2 per cent.

Most Canadians were not illicit drug users in 2002, but more than 10
million reported trying cannabis at least once in their lifetime.
These people represented 41.3 per cent of the population aged 15 or

Although lifetime use was highest among young adults aged 18 to 24,
cannabis use is substantial in older age groups, Tjepkema said.

"It's not just youth who are using marijuana and people that did use
cannabis in the past year, almost half of them, 47 per cent, use it
less than once a month, so a lot of people do use cannabis, but do so
very infrequently," he said.

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.

"If you look at the provincial differences, they're not overly huge,"
Tjepkema said. "They range from 9.3 per cent in Manitoba to 15.7 per
cent in British Columbia."

The study also found that men were more likely than women to have
tried cannabis at least once. Statistics Canada reports that 15.5 per
cent of men reported cannabis use, compared with 9.1 per cent of
women. The proportion of men was higher in all age groups except 15 to
17, where there was no difference between the sexes.

Between 1991 and 2002, the rate of cannabis-related drug offences
increased from 119 offences to 223 offences per 100,000 population.

According to a recent RCMP report, drug enforcement agencies seized
almost five times more marijuana per capita in Saskatchewan than
Alberta in 2003.

Tjepkema noted that information on drug offences may reflect
enforcement efforts as much as differences in drug activity.

The survey also collected data on the use of cocaine or crack,
ecstasy, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and other hallucinogens,
amphetamines and heroin.

Overall, 2.4 per cent of people aged 15 or older reported using at
least one of these drugs in the past year, up from 1.6 per cent in

An estimated 321,000 people had used cocaine or crack, making it the
most commonly used of these drugs. 
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