HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot Use Doubled in Decade, Study Says
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Nov 2004
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The Toronto Star
Author: Canadian Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Safe Injecting Rooms)


14% Smoked Up in the Past Year

Drug Laws a Minor Factor: Researchers

OTTAWA--The number of Canadians who say they have used cannabis in the
past year has doubled in a decade, according to a major new survey.

Data from the Canada Addiction Survey, the most comprehensive
addiction survey ever done in Canada, presents a disturbing picture of
a society increasingly dependent on mood-altering substances.

Fourteen per cent of respondents said they had used cannabis in the
last year, up from 7.4 per cent in 1994. About a third said they had
failed to control their cannabis use.

About 269,000 Canadians said they had used an injectable drug in the
past year, up from 132,000 in 1994. Nearly 4.1 million Canadians
reported using injectable drugs at least once in their life. That's up
from 1.7 million in 1994.

The proportion of drinkers rose to 79.3 per cent this year from 72.3
per cent in 1994. Seven per cent of respondents described themselves
as frequent heavy drinkers, up from 5.4 per cent in 1994.

Conservative justice critic Vic Toews said rising rates of abuse are
an indictment of federal drug policy, including the planned easing of
marijuana laws and the establishment of safe injection sites.

"Certainly the Liberal drug strategy is failing," he said. "The safe
injection sites aren't safe. There are more deaths in Vancouver than
before the safe injection sites were put in place.

"I am concerned about the decriminalization of marijuana or any other
drug. I am concerned that the government has not put forward a
national strategy to deal with the whole issue of addictions."

Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh rejected suggestions that the plan to
decriminalize possession of small quantities of marijuana is leading
to increased use.

"We have the current laws in place at this time, they haven't been
changed and the rate is going up. ... I would focus on the drug
strategy, which is the issue of education."

Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said the government is not
legalizing marijuana, and considers it a health threat. "All we're
doing is changing the penalty regime."

Researchers who conducted the study said that drug laws appear to be a
relatively minor factor in determining drug use, and suggested that a
much broader understanding of drug abuse is needed.

Robert Hanson of Health Canada said the department is working on a
campaign targeted at youth to discourage cannabis and alcohol use.
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