Pubdate: Thu, 25 Nov 2004
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2004 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Janice Tibbetts, CanWest News Service and Kevin Rollason
Cited: NORML Canada
Cited: NORML/SES poll
Cited: Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse survey
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


CANADIANS are smoking pot more than ever before and the majority want
police and government to let the people indulge in peace.

The results of the national poll, released by the advocacy group NORML
Canada, comes the same day a national addiction survey found more than
four of 10 Manitobans admit to having used marijuana sometime in their

The poll shows for the first time that more than half of Canadians
support legalization of marijuana, with 57 per cent of respondents
saying people should be "left alone" if they are caught with small
amounts for personal use.

Jody Pressman, executive director of the NORML pro-marijuana group,
said the poll was "a rude awakening for the government.

"Government is going in the wrong direction if it thinks
decriminalization is a step forward... it's easier to get marijuana on
a schoolground today than it is to get alcohol or cigarettes because
we don't apply the same regulatory measures to marijuana to keep it
away from young people."

The poll also found only eight per cent support criminalizing
marijuana if it leads to punishment in jail. Another 32 per cent
believe pot possession should be punished by fines instead of criminal
records. The poll of 1,000 adults, taken by SES Research of Ottawa
from Oct. 26 to Nov. 1, is considered accurate within 3.1 per cent, 19
times in 20.

Meanwhile, the Canada Addiction Survey found 44.6 per cent of
Manitobans have used marijuana sometime in their lives, compared to
44.5 per cent across the country.

As well, 13.4 per cent of Manitobans admitted to using marijuana in
the last year, a figure that has doubled since the last survey 10 years ago.

The new survey also found that alcohol use causes more harm to
Manitobans than the average Canadian.

For alcohol, the survey found 76.5 per cent of Manitobans, compared to
79.3 per cent nationally, drank in the last year.

But Manitobans are higher than average in the categories of monthly
heavy drinking and heavy frequent drinking during the last year. John
Borody, CEO of the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, admits several
of the figures found in the survey are cause for concern, especially
the marijuana numbers.

Borody said the number of 18-to-19-year-olds and 20-to-24-year-olds
who admit using marijuana is much higher than it was 10 years ago. And
he said that whereas 10 years ago, the number of 20-to-24-year-olds
using marijuana dropped from the number of 18-to-19-year-old users,
that's not the case now.

"That's really scary," he said yesterday. "It puts more pressure on
agencies such as ours to develop appropriate messaging."

The random survey of 13,909 Canadians who were 15 years old and older
took place between last Dec. 16 and April 19. There were 1,502
Manitobans interviewed for the survey.



Some highlights from the Canada Addiction
Survey, released yesterday:

* 44.5 per cent of Canadians reported using cannabis at least once in
their life, compared with 28.2 per cent in 1994.

* 45 per cent reported using some illegal drug at least once, up from
28.5 per cent in 1994.

* 14.1 per cent reported using cannabis in the last year, up from 7.4
per cent in 1994.

* 50.1 per cent of men used cannabis at least once in a

* 39.2 per cent of women used cannabis at least once.

* 79.3 per cent of Canadians reported using alcohol in the last

* 7.3 per cent said they were lifelong teetotallers.

* 13.7 per cent said they were former drinkers and had not used
alcohol in the last year. * 20.2 per cent reported heavy drinking at
least once a month.

. Canadian Press
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake