Marijuana use in Canada is the highest in the industrialized world, far higher than in the Netherlands where it’s legal, and more than four times the global rate, a report by the United Nations has found.
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 per cent 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.
For years, parliamentarians have worked to decriminalize it to no avail. As a result, tens of thousands of people have criminal records for possession.
The study, using the most recent statistics collected from each country — although some dated back almost a decade — estimated that 3.8 per cent 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 per cent in 2003). Ghana (21.5 per cent in 1998) and Papua New Guinea and Micronesia tied for first place at 29 per cent each in 1995.
The Canadian statistics compared to 2005 rates of 8.7 per cent in England and Wales, 12.6 per cent in the United States, 8.5 per cent in Israel; 10.7 per cent in Jamaica (2001), and 6.1 per cent in the Netherlands (2001), where it is legal to buy and sell marijuana for personal use.
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 per cent decline in cannabis use among U.S. 12th graders between 1979, when marijuana use peaked, and 2006. A 19 per cent 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 doubled.”
However, the report 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 controls.
Forty per cent of Canadian cannabis is produced in British Columbia, 25 per cent in Ontario and 25 per cent in Quebec, the report noted.
…this post forwarded by a Windsor Humanist (Neil.Hod.) after a July 10, 2007 article in The Windsor Star