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Girls close gap for use of cannabis
Irish Examiner 24/08/2007

By Cormac O'Keeffe

THE gap between schoolgirls and schoolboys in terms of cannabis use has narrowed dramatically in the last four years, new research shows.

In 2002, nearly twice as many boys aged 15-17 as girls of the same age had taken cannabis within the last year.

But in 2006, a mere 3% more boys than girls had taken the drug in the previous year.

The study by researchers in Galway University found:

* 23% of 15 to 17-year-old boys took cannabis in the last year in 2006, compared with 32% in 2002.

* 20% of girls of the same age group took cannabis in 2006, compared with 17% in 2002.

The Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children report, published on Wednesday, said the gap remained the same in the 12-14 age group.

This showed that, on average, 7% of boys took cannabis within the last year in 2006, compared with 5% in 2002. Among girls, the corresponding figures were 5% and 3% respectively.

Overall, 12% of children surveyed in 2006 reported using cannabis in the last 12 months, compared with 11% in 2002.

There was, however, a higher lifetime prevalence, with 16% of children in 2006 saying they had taken cannabis, compared with 12% in 2002.

The report showed that boys in this age group from the lower socio-economic groups reported the highest use, at 15%, compared with 10% among the higher socioeconomic groups.