HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Canadian Pot Use Four Times Global Rate
Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jul 2007
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2007 Southam Inc.
Author: Juliet O'Neill, CanWest News Service
Referenced: 2007 World Drug Report
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Highest in Western World

Marijuana use in Canada is the highest in the industrialized world and
more than four times the global rate, according to a report from the
United Nations.

The UN study even suggests Canadians use marijuana at a rate double
that of the Netherlands, where it is legal to buy and sell the drug
for personal use.

The report also says cannabis use around the world appears to have
stabilized and appears to be declining in North America. A plunge in
use by Ontario high school students was cited as a factor in the trend.

The world drug-use study by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said that
16.8% of Canadians aged 15 to 64 smoked marijuana or used other
cannabis products in 2004, the most recent year for which statistics
were cited.

Marijuana possession remains illegal in Canada, despite years of
recommendations by parliamentarians to decriminalize it. As a result,
tens of thousands of people have criminal records for possession.

The Canadian Press reported yesterday that arrests for marijuana
posession in several Canadian cities increased between 20% and 50%
last year.

The report cited police officials as saying the jump in arrests is
linked to the Conservative government's decision to drop a Liberal
bill that would have decriminalized the posession of small amounts of

"Everybody was waiting for what was going to happen ... There'd be no
use clogging up the court system with that decriminalization bill
there. When that was defeated, I'd say it was business as usual,"
Terry McLaren, president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of
Police, told The Canadian Press.

The UN study, using the most recent statistics collected from each
country -- although some dated back almost a decade -- estimated that
3.8% of the world's population aged 15 to 64 used cannabis in 2005.

That was about 159 million people, down slightly from 162 million the
previous year.

The data show Canadian usage fifth after Zambia (17.7% in 2003), Ghana
(21.5% in 1998) and Papua New Guinea and Micronesia, which tied for
first place at 29% each in 1995.

The Canadian statistics compared to 2005 rates of 8.7% in England and
Wales, 12.6% in the United States, 8.5% in Israel; 10.7% in Jamaica
(2001), and 6.1% in the Netherlands (2001), where possession and use
of the drug is legal.

In some countries in East and Southeast Asia, such as Korea and
Singapore, and in the Middle East, such as Oman and Qatar, cannabis
use is negligible.

The report said cannabis comprises, by far, the largest illicit drug
market on the planet.

The study also noted a 38% dip in cannabis use among U.S. 12th graders
between 1979, when marijuana use peaked, and 2006. A 19% drop in use
by Ontario high school students between 2003 and 2005 was also noted.

The report also said there was slightly less trafficking of cannabis
from Canada into the United States in 2005.

"This could indicate that cannabis production stabilized or even
declined slightly in Canada, following large production increases in
previous years," the report said, citing Canadian government
estimates. "Between 2000 and 2004, production [in] Canada more than

However, the report also suggested that the altered trafficking trend
could also indicate that organized crime groups have relocated to the
American Pacific northwest and California to avoid tightened border

Forty per cent of Canadian cannabis is produced in British Columbia,
25% in Ontario and 25% in Quebec, the report noted.
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