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Pot use among young people rises in Canada after legalization, new report shows

It is stunning what has happened in such a short period of time

Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images

More young people are smoking pot in Canada post-legalization, according to a recent federal study.

Marijuana use among 15- to 24-year-olds in Canada increased by 27 percent during the first quarter of 2019 over the same period in 2018, the National Cannabis Survey published Thursday showed. Among that group, approximately 10 percent reported using the drug daily or almost daily.

"It is stunning what has happened in such a short period of time," Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana said in a news release.

Overall, about 30 percent of young people 15 to 24 reported using marijuana.

In addition, the number of first-time users nearly doubled over the same periods. About 646,000 Canadians reported trying pot for the first time between January and March, up from 327,000 during the same months in 2018.

"A doubling of first-time use of today's highly potent and addictive marijuana and a rise in use among young people. This is incredibly concerning for the implications it has on mental health," Sabet said.

The NCS has collected quarterly data on marijuana use since 2018. It was designed to monitor pot consumption and related behaviors before and after the legalization of recreational marijuana in October.

Are users driving under the influence?

Nearly half of Canadians said they believe marijuana users should not drive a vehicle within three hours of using.

But the study showed that daily or almost daily users were more likely to believe it is safe to drive within three hours of consumption.

"About 18% of daily users reported this belief, while the same was true for 7% of other current users, 5% of former users, and 4% for those who have never consumed cannabis," the report said.

Overall, 15 percent of marijuana users admitted to driving within two hours of consumption, according to combined data from the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019. Of those, 20 percent said they also consumed alcohol at the same time.

And 57 percent of those who said they drove within two hours of using pot also reported riding as a passenger with someone who had consumed the drug within two hours.

Among 15- to 24-year-olds, 4 percent or 1.1 million admitted they rode in a car operated by driver who had used pot in the two hours prior.

Are users working while high?

About 500,000 or 13 percent of Canadians workers said they used the drug before or during their workday.

One last thing…
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