Pubdate: Mon, 19 Oct 2009
Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland)
Copyright: 2009 The Irish Times
Author: Charlie Taylor
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Popular)


AS MANY as one in 25 people worldwide uses cannabis despite the
negative health effects associated with the drug, according to a new
study published in the Lancet.

The report, which uses estimates supplied by the UN office on drugs
and crime, reveals that cannabis continues to be the drug most widely
cultivated and used around the world.

The study indicates that 166 million adults aged between 16 and 64
admitted to using the drug at least once a week during 2006,
equivalent to 3.9 per cent of the global population.

Cannabis use was found to be highest in the US, Australia and New

Some African countries are also thought to have high rates of cannabis
use, although accurate figures were not available.

Approximately 31 per cent of all cannabis users are estimated to be
from Asia, while 25 per cent and 24 per cent of users live in Africa
and the Americas respectively. Eighteen per cent of cannabis users are
to be found in Europe, according to the research.

Although Ireland is not covered in the study, a report from the
National Advisory Committee on Drugs published last year revealed that
about 17 per cent of adults have used cannabis in their lifetime, with
one in 33 of the population described as current users.

The report indicates that trends in use are highly variable within and
between regions.

Although Australia and New Zealand are both in the highest-use
category, the drug is in decline there, a trend also witnessed in
other wealthy nations. In contrast, cannabis use is believed to be
increasing in some low- and middle-income regions, particularly Latin
America and Africa.

While cannabis is widely considered a "soft" drug, the study's
authors, Prof Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland, Brisbane,
and Prof Louisa Degenhardt of the University of New South Wales,
Sydney, report that the data shows it is more harmful than commonly

According to the study, the average tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content
- - the active component of cannabis - has almost doubled in some
countries over the past decade.

A high THC content has been found to lead to anxiety, depression and
psychotic symptoms in some users, and an increased dependence on the
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake