Teen cannabis use is declining, adults increasing in New Zealand - study

The number of New Zealand teenagers using cannabis is dropping, however the number of adults using it is rising, according to a new study.

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Northeast Ohio Medical University's Erik Messamore says he's in favour of legalisation, but people need to know the risks. Source: Breakfast

Today's study found cannabis use in Year 10 students (typically aged 14 and 15 years old) has continued to drop since 2012.

Around 12 per cent of teenagers have tried cannabis, according to the study by New Zealand Medical Association, down from 19 per cent.

The number of teens who acknowledge weekly use has also declined slightly, from 4.1 per cent to 3.3 per cent.

"This was predicted, since cannabis trends in this age group are strongly associated with tobacco trends, and it was already known that smoking in Year 10 students had continued to decline since 2012," the authors say in the report.

"The evidence suggests that adolescents’ willingness to try cannabis has increased, but their opportunities for doing so have decreased due to less face to face time with friends and fewer drinking and smoking occasions."

The researchers say it's based on self-reported data conducted in schools every two years. 

But while cannabis use among youth is dropping, the opposite is occuring for adults.

It's increased from 9 per cent in 2012 to 29 per cent in 2018, according to the New Zealand Health Survey.


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The poll, conducted by Colmar Brunton on behalf of 1 NEWS, asked about the two major referendums on the ballot in September. Source: 1 NEWS

The new research comes after a 1 NEWS-Colmar Brunton poll was released last week which found support for the cannabis referendum is declining.

Friday's poll found 51 per cent of Kiwis wanted cannabis to remain illegal with only 39 per cent for it.

It's a further drop in support from a 1 NEWS-Colmar Brunton poll in November/December last year, which saw 49 per cent against legalisation and 39 per cent for.

The referendum will be held during the September 21 general election, asking: Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?

The National Party has previously said it won't commit to passing the bill, regardless of the referendum result, if it gets into power.