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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs
Volume I - General Orientation

Chapter 6 - Users and uses: form, practice, context



We have learned the following from all the information on trends, patterns, circumstances, trajectories and social consequences of cannabis use:


Conclusions of Chapter 6

On trends in use















On trajectories











On the gateway effect




On violence and crime


      The infrastructure of national knowledge about the trends and circumstances of cannabis use is fundamentally weak and desperately needs strengthening.

            The epidemiological data available indicates that close to 30% of the population (12 to 64 years old) has used cannabis at least once.

            Approximately 10% used cannabis during the previous year.

            Up to 30% of those who used cannabis in the last year are current users (have used cannabis this month).

      Approximately 15% of current users would be daily users

            Use is highest between the ages of 16 and 24.

            The prevalence of use during the current year is highest, approximately 40%, in young people of high school age.

            The prevalence of monthly use in young people is approximately 30%.

            The prevalence of daily use in young people is approximately 9%.


      The average age of introduction to cannabis is 15.

            Most experimenters stop using cannabis.

            Regular users were generally introduced to cannabis at a younger age.

            Long-term users most often have a trajectory in which use rises and falls.

            Long-term regular users experience a period of heavy use in their early 20s.

            Most long-term users integrate their use into their family, social and occupational activities.


            Cannabis itself is not a cause of other drug use.

            Cannabis use can be a gateway because it is illegal, which puts users in contact with other substances.


            Cannabis itself is not a cause of delinquency and crime.

            Young people with a trajectory of regular and heavy use are often already on a deviant if not delinquent trajectory.

      Cannabis is not a cause of violence.



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