Cannabis use increasing as quarter of adults smoke drug
PROFESSIONALS, managers and senior civil servants are among the increasing numbers of people who admit using cannabis.
A quarter of adults have used cannabis, though those who smoke it are doing so less often, according to the results of a survey by the Department of Health.
The study of the illegal drug use on the island of Ireland found it had increased from 22pc in 2007 to 25pc in 2011.
Nearly four in 10 said the cannabis they smoked was grown in Ireland – more than twice the rate reported in the last study in 2006. A marked switch from cannabis resin to herbal cannabis was also identified.
Cannabis herb is the most common form of the drug abused, while resin use was reported by more than a quarter.
More than one-third of people who admitted trying cannabis and 10pc who used it last year were in the top socio-economic groups.
People on long-term state benefits were the most numerous among those who admitted using cannabis last month, while semi-skilled or unskilled workers were the group who were most likely never to have tried it.
Prof Catherine Comiskey, chair of the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol, which carried out the drug prevalence survey, said cannabis continued to be the most commonly used illegal drug in the country.
She said she was not concerned at the increase in the numbers who tried it as this was expected due to the rise in the population.
A survey of attitudes found that in the general population, people were quite tolerant of the use of cannabis for medicinal reasons but less so for other recreational use.
Around 6pc of those surveyed said they had used the drug in the past year and 3pc in the past month. The proportion of all adults reporting the highest frequency of use – of 20 days or more in the month – dropped from 24pc to 14pc.
Men aged 15 to 24 were more than twice as likely as women to use cannabis in the past year. Prevalence rates were highest among men and younger adults aged 15 to 34.
While the number of men using the drug had increased from 2007, rates among women remained steady.
The results of the survey, entitled 'Drug Use in Ireland and Northern Ireland, Drug Prevalence Survey 2010/2011: Cannabis Results', also revealed that cannabis use was more common among those who had undertaken further education.
Junior Health Minister Alex White said the survey – the third in a series of seven bulletins from data collected in 2010 and 2011 – was the best measure of the cannabis situation in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.