Cannabis use among adolescents decreased significantly
Cannabis use among adolescents in Germany is declining. This is reported by the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) with reference to its own representative study on cannabis use by adolescents in Cologne. Although fewer adolescents used cannabis than in previous years, a third of those aged between 18 and 25 still said they had tried cannabis before.
The Federal Center for Health Education sees the decline in cannabis use as a encouraging signal and explained that this was largely due to the unpopularity of smoking. Smoking is simply out and the majority of young people who do not smoke do not try cannabis either, emphasized the spokeswoman for the BZgA, Julia Jakob.
A quarter of young people have tried cannabis before. To determine the cannabis consumption of young people, the BZgA interviewed 7,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 25 by telephone. The BZgA explained that only a quarter (25 percent) of the adolescents surveyed had already had experience with cannabis. In 2004, however, the proportion was still one third (33 percent). With a breakdown by age group, just under one in ten of the 14- to 17-year-olds and one in three of the 18- to 25-year-olds has already tried cannabis, said the BZgA. This means that the proportion of cannabis users both among 12- to 17-year-olds and among 18- to 25-year-olds has decreased by around eight percent compared to 2004.
Few adolescents consume cannabis on a regular basis However, very few adolescents consume marijuana or hashish on a regular basis. Only 0.6 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds and 3 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds stated that they had used cannabis more than ten times in the past twelve months, the spokeswoman for the BZgA said. In addition, male adolescents overall would try cannabis more often than female adolescents (5 percent vs. 1.4 percent), according to the latest study. On the other hand, it does not take into account whether, instead of the prohibited marijuana, the young people may resort to the substitute products of the so-called herbal mixtures, which are sold under new names. Contrary to what the name suggests, these mostly contain synthetic substances which are said to have a similar effect to THC, but which can cause considerable health problems. To this day, the herb mixtures can be freely sold in various forms.
Caution with cannabis use Despite the decline, experiences with cannabis use among young people in Germany are still relatively widespread. However, unlike tobacco or alcohol, consumers are always in a legal gray area, since consumption is not punishable, possession and possession can be punished. As long as nothing changes in the legislation, the young people should therefore not be caught catching cannabis. In any case, according to the experts, caution should be exercised when smoking cannabis, since the THC it contains has a particularly strong effect on the metabolism of adolescents in the development phase and in individual cases can cause considerable psychological problems. Regular cannabis use is often accompanied by a lack of drive, through which those affected extremely neglect their school careers and thus put considerable hurdles in the way for the rest of their lives. (fp)
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