have used cannabis
By Niall Hunter-Editor
A new 32-county survey has found that 17% of the
Irish population has used cannabis at one stage
in their lives, while 3% have reported using it
in the past month. Over a quarter of people surveyed
who said they had ever taken cannabis said that
they had used cannabis at some stage in their lives,
with 5% having used the drug in the past year and
3% in the past month.
Prevalence rates of cannabis use were higher among
young respondents; the lifetime prevalence rate
for those aged 15 to 34 (24%) was more than double
that for those aged 35 to 64. Male respondents in
the survey reported higher rates of cannabis use
than females. The lifetime prevalence rate for males
was 22% compared to 12% for females.
Younger men were also twice as likely as older men
to have used cannabis. The average age of first
use of cannabis was reported as 18. Regular users
of cannabis started use on average at the younger
age of 16 years. Twenty-two per cent of current
users reported daily use of cannabis.
Just over a quarter (27%) of respondents who said
they had ever taken cannabis said that they had
used it regularly. Of these 58% said that they had
stopped taking cannabis and one-in-eight said that
they had tried to stop and failed, while three in
10 respondents said they had never tried to stop.
It was found that 31% of respondents to the survey
were given cannabis by a family member of friend
and a further 27% of respondents said they had shared
cannabis amongst a group of friends.
The findings are among the key results contained
in the latest bulletin of- ‘Drug use in Ireland
and Northern Ireland 2002-2003-Drug Prevalence Survey’
launched today by Mr Noel Ahern, Minister for State
with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Des Corrigan, Chairperson
of the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD)
said this information contradicts the popular view
of the dealer as someone completely unknown to the
user and highlights how important it is for parents
to know who their children are associating with,
what they are doing and if they are being supervised.
Dr Corrigan said the potency of the cannabis available
in Ireland has increased in recent years, increasing
the risk of dependence and psychiatric problems.
In terms of the physical health effects, it is estimated
that up to four times the amount of tar can be deposited
on the lungs by smoking a cannabis joint compared
to a standard tobacco cigarette, he said. The study
was carried out on the island of Ireland, involving
a total of 8,434 people.