Pubdate: Thu, 10 Dec 2015
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Julienne Bay
Page: 10
Referenced: Drug Use Among Ontario Students 1977-2015:


More Ontario students report using cannabis than tobacco, a survey 
released Wednesday shows.

About 21% of Grade 7 to 12 students in Ontario say they used cannabis 
during the past year, according to the survey by the Centre for 
Addiction and Mental Health. The usage was higher among older 
students; 37% of Grade 12 students reported using pot, while the 
report called marijuana use among seventh graders as "negligible".

On the other hand, almost 9% of students also reported smoking 
tobacco -- a level that has remained static for several years 
following a steady decline over the last couple of decades.

The report surveyed 10,426 students between Grade 7 and 12 from across Ontario.

Dr. Robert Mann, a senior scientist at CAMH who co-authored the 
report, was surprised to find a higher usage of cannabis, a drug 
that's illegal, compared to tobacco, which is legal though its sale 
to minors is controlled.

"Currently, cannabis is illegal and you could get criminal record ... 
(yet) it's a drug that's very commonly used," Munn said.

The survey also showed the perceived risk associated with marijuana 
use decreased in recent years. On the other hand, the perceived risk 
associated with daily smoking shows a gradual increase since 2003.

Also, 10% of surveyed students reported driving under the influence 
of cannabis, compared to 5% reporting driving under the influence of alcohol.

Munn said regulation and public education plays a role in these findings.

If cannabis becomes legal, its accessibility and products should be 
controlled to reduce health-related harms, he said.

This year's survey also included the use of cannabis oil in 
e-cigarette form, which was reported at 5% of the students. Another 
new surveyed drug was synthetic cannabis, also known as "spice" or 
"K2," which 1.3% students admitted to using or having used.

Meanwhile, alcohol remains the drug of choice among Ontario youth; 
almost 46% of the respondents reported drinking alcohol in the past 
year. While the overall proportion of students who reported drinking 
alcohol has dropped substantially in the last two decades -- in 1999, 
66% of students said they drank -- about 18% of this year's survey 
respondents admitted to binge drinking at least once during the 
previous month. Binge drinking is defined as having five or more 
drinks on one occasion, according to Mann. The Ontario Student Drug 
Use and Health Survey, conducted every two years since 1977, is 
Canada's longest-running systematic study of substance use among youth.

- -- with files from the Canadian Press
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom