Cannabis consumption has more than doubled among Canadians aged 15 and older over the last 30 years, according to a new report. The national statistics agency has been trying to compile a picture of marijuana use in Canada as the Liberal government moves ahead with plans to legalise the drug later this year.
For the first time, Statistics Canada compared nine national household population surveys that touched on cannabis use starting in 1985 to get a sense of long-term trends. It found cannabis use among Canadians aged 15 years and older went from 5.6 per cent in 1985 to 12.3 per cent in 2015.The report also found that trends differ between young men and women. Between 2004 and 2015, marijuana use remained stable among boys aged 15 to 17, but fell among women in the same age group. The use of cannabis actually dipped for both men and women aged 18 to 24 during that same 11-year span, but increased among Canadians 25 and older.
When a person smokes marijuana, the chemical THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. The body absorbs THC more slowly when the person eats or drinks it. In that case, they generally feel the effects after 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Debate still rages over the harmfulness and addictiveness of marijuana and its long-term effects on health. When people begin using marijuana as teenagers, the drug can impair thinking, memory and learning functions, and affects how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Researchers are still studying how long marijuana’s effects last and whether some changes may be permanent.
Long-term marijuana use has been linked to mental illness in some people, including temporary hallucinations, paranoia, worsening symptoms in patients with schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among some teens.
Specialist addiction treatment centres such as Canada’s Addiction Healing Centre provide a safe environment for men who have marijuana addictions. They help them recover and learn how to lead a positive, happy life without smoking pot. The treatment programs include group and individual therapy, physical activity and proper nutrition, to help the patient get healthy in both body and mind and learn how to cope effectively with the stresses of life.
The legislation to legalise cannabis for recreational use was passed by the House of Commons of Canada in late November 2017. On 18 June 2018, the House passed the bill with most, but not all, of the Senate’s amendments. The Senate accepted this version of the Act the following day and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced recreational use of cannabis would no longer violate the Criminal Code as of October 2018.
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