UN report finds Canucks smoke pot at four times the average global rate





Marc Emery, leader of the B.C. Marijuana Party, smokes up behind the party’s Hastings Street headquarters in Vancouver yesterday.


Marc Emery wasn’t surprised to hear that Canadians toke up at four times the world average, nor the implication that British Columbians thereby lead the industrialized world in pot consumption.

“Canadians are having a resurgence of use in their senior years,” said Emery, leader of the B.C. Marijuana Party, as a possible explanation for the high rate of marijuana use.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s recent 2007 World Drug Report found that 16.8 per cent of Canadians between 15 and 64 admitted to using a cannabis product in 2006, in comparison to a world average of 3.8 per cent for the same demographic.

People are discovering marijuana to combat cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy in their senior years, Emery said, which has led, in part, to decreasing the stigma surrounding the drug.

“The range of experiences is expanding. Now the only generation (pre-baby boomers) left that didn’t grow up with a familiarity of weed in a social context is discovering it.”

Emery said part of the reason the drug culture is so prevalent in Vancouver is due in large part to the rugged terrain and mild climate that helps plants to thrive.

He added that at least 35 per cent of the national marijuana trade is based in British Columbia. An RCMP study estimates it is even higher, at roughly 50 per cent.

Meanwhile, the number of people arrested for smoking marijuana rose dramatically in Vancouver and several other Canadian cities in 2006, according to recent media reports.

Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax all reported increases in pot possession arrests of between 20 to 50 per cent in 2006, from the previous year.

The Vancouver Police did not have supporting statistics readily available yesterday.

B.C. leading the way

  • A University of Victoria study released in October found that British Columbians smoke more marijuana than anyone else in Canada.

  • The study from the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. found that 53 per cent of British Columbians reported having used cannabis, compared to 44 per cent of Canadians as a whole.