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    Thread: Cannabis Use In Britain

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      Default Cannabis Use In Britain

      Cannabis is the most widely-used illegal drug on the planet, and has been one of the most intensively-studied substances of all time. It is also the drug which causes the most controversy, and arouses the strongest emotions on both sides. The legalisation argument has been creeping steadily up the political agenda in recent years, with the opinion polls, once 6 to one against reform, now showing public opinion to be evenly divided between the reformers and prohibitionists.

      Prevalence of Cannabis Use

      The Home Office conducts the British Crime Survey every 2 years, including questions on whether people have ever used a range of drugs, and if so whether they have done so in the past year or past month. The prevalence of cannabis use has been rising in these surveys since they were first conducted in the early 1980s. In the UK, around 15 million people would now admit having tried cannabis, with between 2 and 5 million regular users.

      Cannabis use is highest in the 16-29 age group, although the rise in use is sharpest among older adults. Part of this is demographic, as existing or former users progress into the older age groups, although first time use among elderly citizens, particularly for medicinal reasons, is becoming more common.

      IDMU Surveys - Our research is based primarily on our drug user surveys, which have been conducted in 1994, and in each year since 1997, as well as my own 1984 survey which pioneered the methodology. Respondents are asked to complete anonymous questionnaires, containing a number of core variables, with other questions varying from year to year. Surveys have been distributed primarily at pop-festivals and pro-cannabis rallies, although smaller batches have been distributed via subcultural magazines, snowballing, via direct mailings to members of pressure groups, and at other events. Development has been evolutionary, and response rates have been increased via use of our own stalls and provision of clip-boards at outdoor events.

      The Home Office publishes annual statistics on drug seizures and drugs offenders. These have been rising steadily since the end of World War II, the millionth conviction would have occurred around December 1999. Dangerous Drugs Acts 1945-1972 = 44,834, Misuse of Drugs Act 1973-1999 = 958,688, Total - 1,003,522

      The majority of users smoke relatively small amounts of the drug, with mean consumption of 1g per day. Progressively smaller numbers use larger amounts, around one in 20 use 1oz per week, and one in 100 2oz per week. However, in the Caribbean Schaeffer et al described use of up to 2oz (56g) per day of herbal cannabis containing 8% THC.

      Women as a whole tend to smoke cannabis less often than males, although differences in purchase and spending were not statistically significant. The difference is greatest amongst women who are experimental or occasional users, there was little difference between consumption of daily users of either sex. Those experimenting with cannabis will tend to buy or use more than occasional users. In couples, it is usually the man who buys the cannabis for both to use. Note also that many regular users grow their own, so spending alone is an imperfect measure of cannabis usage.

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