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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 108, Issue 5–6, pp e516–e522 | Cite as

Prevalence of problematic cannabis use in Canada: Cross-sectional findings from the 2013 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey

  • Cesar Leos-Toro
  • Vicki Rynard
  • David HammondEmail author
Quantitative Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance in Canada. There exist a variety of tools to measure problematic characteristics of cannabis use; however, there is no consensus on the operational definition of “problematic use”. The current study sought to estimate the prevalence of problematic cannabis use in Canada, in terms of the kinds of problems Canadians report due to their cannabis use, the levels of harm associated with cannabis consumption, and potential differences among socio-demographic groups.

METHODS: Cross-sectional, nationally representative data for Canadians were obtained from the publicly available Statistics Canada’s 2013 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS) (n = 13 635). Binary logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine subgroup differences in patterns of cannabis use and problematic outcomes defined by the World Health Organization’s Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) tool embedded in CTADS.

RESULTS: The findings indicate that, while 1 in 10 Canadians reported using cannabis in the past 3 months, only 2% of the sample of Canadians who reported using cannabis in the past 3 months were characterized as having a “high risk” of severe health or other problems. Canadian male respondents were more likely to report social problems than females and to be categorized as high risk. Youth and young adults between the ages of 15 and 29 consistently reported a greater prevalence of problems associated with their cannabis consumption than their older counterparts.

CONCLUSION: A very small proportion of Canadians report using cannabis to a degree that is problematic. Approximately one in two young people reported using cannabis at some point in their lives, of concern given the negative health outcomes of early cannabis use. This study highlights the need for the development of more sensitive instruments to detect problematic cannabis use.

Key words

Cannabis marijuana ASSIST problematic use dependence men’s health youth surveillance 

Résumé

OBJECTIFS: Le cannabis est la substance illicite la plus largement consommée au Canada. Il existe un éventail d’outils pour mesurer les caractéristiques de la consommation abusive de cannabis, mais la définition opérationnelle de «consommation abusive» ne fait pas consensus. Notre étude visait à estimer la prévalence de la consommation abusive de cannabis au Canada, en fonction des genres de problèmes que les Canadiens disent découler de leur consommation de cannabis, des niveaux de méfaits associés à cette consommation et des différences éventuelles entre les groupes sociodémographiques.

MÉTHODE: Des données transversales représentatives des Canadiens à l’échelle nationale ont été tirées de l’Enquête canadienne sur le tabac, l’alcool et les drogues (ECTAD) menée par Statistique Canada en 2013 (n = 13 635), qui est publiquement disponible. Des analyses de régression logistique binaires ont permis d’examiner les différences entre sous-groupes dans les habitudes de consommation de cannabis et les issues problématiques définies dans l’outil ASSIST (Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test) de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé, intégré dans l’ECTAD.

RÉSULTATS: Selon nos constatations, bien qu’un Canadien sur 10 ait déclaré avoir consommé du cannabis au cours des 3 mois antérieurs, seulement 2 % de l’échantillon de Canadiens ayant déclaré avoir consommé du cannabis au cours des 3 mois antérieurs ont été caractérisés comme ayant un «risque élevé» d’éprouver un grave problème (de santé ou autre). Les répondants masculins étaient plus susceptibles de déclarer des problèmes sociaux que les femmes et d’être classés dans la catégorie de «risque élevé». Les jeunes et les jeunes adultes entre 15 et 29 ans ont systématiquement déclaré une plus forte prévalence de problèmes associés à leur consommation de cannabis que les répondants plus âgés.

CONCLUSION: Une très faible proportion de Canadiens déclare consommer du cannabis de façon abusive. Environ un jeune sur deux déclare en avoir déjà consommé dans sa vie, ce qui est préoccupant vu les effets négatifs de la consommation précoce du cannabis sur la santé. L’étude souligne la nécessité d’élaborer des instruments plus sensibles pour détecter la consommation abusive de cannabis.

Mots clés

cannabis marijuana ASSIST consommation abusive dépendance santé masculine jeunes surveillance 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public Health & Health SystemsUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Propel Centre for Population Health ImpactUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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