Marijuana plants

Parents in western countries should be alarmed by the latest findings on drug use published by the medical journal, The Lancet. The global study found that the advanced economies continue to lead the would in the use of drugs like marijuana and amphetamines.

It found that Australian and New Zealand are the worst affected countries, with 9.3 to 14.8 per cent of people admitting that they used marijuana in the past year. While the Americas averaged about 7 per cent for marijuana use, North America was by far the worst affected region, with 10.7 per cent of people admitting they had used the drug.

By contrast many developing countries registered a low level of usage, with only 1.2 to 2.5 per cent of people in Asia admitting to using marijuana.

The leader of the study, Louisa Degenhardt from Australia’s National Drug and Alcohol Research told the Sydney Morning Herald that while supply issues could affect which drugs were used in different countries, cultural attitudes to drugs also had an impact.

”The more negative the attitude in general the lower the level of use tends to be,” she said.

So, as other studies have shown, parental attitudes and guidance of young people can have an impact on drug usage.

But other factors are at work as well. The director of the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research at the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, Robin Room told the newsapaper that international drug treaties constrained countries like Australia from “experimenting with the regulation of drugs or from adapting laws to the differing harms caused by individual drugs”.

His paper in The Lancet argues that in order to adapt such policies countries would have to withdraw from international treaties.
”At the moment we can have that political discussion but we can’t make the political changes,” he said.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet