Health Canada Study Worries Quebec Officials Over Increasing Teen Marijuana Use

The Montreal Gazette (1/20, Cornacchia) reports, “Are Quebec teens going to pot? New research suggests they are more likely than teenagers anywhere else in Canada to smoke marijuana and then brush off concerns relating to its use. The Health Canada study made public last month also reported nearly half of Quebec teens – 45% of 12- to 19-year-olds – have used marijuana on more than one occasion. And their first exposure is often by age 13.” Barbara Victor, a Montreal social worker who, like others, found the results alarming, and said, “For me the numbers certainly made connections between early drug use, abuse, gambling and other problems.” The Gazette adds. Victor is the director of school services for Jewish Family Services, which organizes drug prevention programs in more than 100 Quebec schools. She said the statistics tell her Quebec families, schools and other community organizations must do a better job of giving young people skills – other than smoking pot – to cope with life’s stresses. The national study found only 34% of Canadian teens, age 12 to 19, have smoked marijuana more than once and were more likely to have concerns about it than Quebec teens. In Quebec, Victor said, smoking pot is no longer counterculture but almost the norm. Many of today’s parents have smoked marijuana in the past and many continue the habit.” As a result, Victor said, “teenagers say and, understandably so, ‘You do it Dad. Why can’t I?’ But when a teenager smokes pot, he or she brings his 13-year-old judgment to the situation and it becomes all the more dangerous.” The Gazette notes, “The 74-page report on Canadian youth and marijuana was put together for Health Canada by Ottawa-based GPC Research. The report is now making its way into the hands of professionals working in the field of drug prevention. The study was commissioned as part of the federal government’s plan to develop a comprehensive health promotion and drug prevention strategy to discourage Canadians, teens specifically, from smoking marijuana. There are about 3 million teens in Canada.”
Source:The Montreal Gazette (Cornacchia) Jan 2004.

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