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Date: October 04, 2006

Cannabis Use Highest in BC

Cannabis use is more widespread among British Columbians than the rest of Canadians. That’s just one of the findings of a joint study from the University of Victoria-based Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) and the Centre for Applied Research on Mental Health and Addictions at SFU.

The two centres analyzed data from the 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey and discovered that 1.84 million British Columbians have tried cannabis at least once. In fact, not only had more British Columbians used cannabis (53 percent in BC versus 44 per cent in the rest of Canada or “elsewhere”), but they also found it “very easy” to obtain (65 per cent in BC versus 44 per cent elsewhere). As well, compared with other Canadians, significantly fewer BC respondents believed cannabis use should be illegal (42 per cent in BC versus 49 per cent elsewhere). In general, cannabis users were more likely to be young, male, and have higher education than non-users.

“While there were some areas of similarity among British Columbians and other Canadians—for example most people first use cannabis at around 18 years of age and the drug is used by three per cent of the population daily—more BC users reported trying to control their use,” says study co-author Dr. Benedikt Fischer, the director of CARBC’s Illicit Drugs, Public Health and Policy Unit. “BC users also had friends who were concerned about their use; they combined their cannabis with alcohol and were classified as ‘moderate risk users’.”

“Overall these results suggest that greater availability, prevalence and acceptability of cannabis in BC have resulted in an increase in potentially hazardous use,” says study co-author and CARBC research associate Jodi Sturge. “In BC, cannabis, like alcohol, is now regarded as a normal recreational drug and the risks associated with it are especially frequent and heavy use may be underestimated and a call for targeted interventions.”

Copies of “Cannabis Use in British Columbia: Patterns of Use, Perceptions and Public Opinion as Assessed in the 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey” are available online at www.carbc.ca. CARBC is a research centre of the University of Victoria, in partnership with UBC, UNBC, SFU and Thompson Rivers University.
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Media contacts:
Dr. Benedikt Fischer (The Centre for Addictions Research of BC) at (250) 853-3132 or bfischer@uvic.ca
Jodi Sturge (The Centre for Addictions Research of BC) at (250) 472-5934 or jsturge@uvic.ca
Maria Lironi (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-6139 or lironim@uvic.ca

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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