Pubdate: Wed, 10 Sep 2014
Source: Australian, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2014sThe Australian
Author: Simon King
Page: 7
Cited: Lancet Psychiatry


RESEARCHERS behind a new Australasian study into the effects of 
cannabis use in young adults have warned policymakers they "need to 
be very careful" if they are considering decriminalisation.

The study, which examined the effects of Australia's most widely used 
drug on 14 to 19year-olds up until the age of 30, found there was a 
"very strong" association between cannabis use over time and harmful outcomes.

According to the latest figures from the National Drug Strategy 
Household Survey, in Australia 1 per cent of all 14 to 19-year-olds 
use cannabis daily, while 4 per cent use it weekly.

"Adolescents who were daily cannabis users were ... 60 per cent less 
likely to complete high school or obtain a degree, seven times more 
likely to attempt suicide, had an 18 times greater chance of cannabis 
dependence and were eight times as likely to use other illicit 
drugs," said the lead author of the study, Edmund Silins, from the 
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW. 
Dr Silins said the findings, to be published in The Lancet today, 
were "particularly timely given the growing momentum to decriminalise 
or legalise cannabis".

Last month the Victorian Labor Party said it would legalise medical 
cannabis use if it wins the November state election.

"Policymakers need to be aware that the early use of cannabis is 
associated with a range of negative outcomes for young adults that 
affect their health, wellbeing and achievement," Dr Silins said.

"Any reforms that are made to cannabis legislation should be 
carefully evaluated so that they decrease adolescent cannabis use and 
don't contribute to any adverse effect in young adulthood."
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