A study released last week from Aarhus University’s Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research showed that some 17,000 Danes between the ages of 15 and 25 smoke cannabis at least 20 days per month. Previously, the Danish Health and Medicine Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) presumed that the number was just 11,000.
The study also showed that 43 percent of Danish youths have tried cannabis and that one in ten has smoked it within the past month.
“Cannabis abuse is a bigger problem than previously assumed,” Mads Uffe Pedersen, a professor at the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research, told Kristeligt Dagblad.
Just days after those results were released, new figures from the Danish National Institute of Public Health (Statens Institut for Folkesundhed) showed that nearly one in four 15-year-old Danish boys has smoked cannabis.
Twenty-three percent of 15-year-old boys reported that they have smoked cannabis, compared to 11 percent of 15-year-old girls. Boys are also more frequent users, with 11 percent of 15-year-old males reporting that they had smoked cannabis in the past 30 days. Just five percent of 15-year-old girls reported the same.
Birgitte Simonsen, a youth researcher who has carried out similar surveys among school kids, called the results “worrying but not surprising”.
“Cannabis has become mainstream and it is the drug to worry about because it is what the young people are using while very few of them take other drugs,” she told Jyllands-Posten.
Simonsen’s claim is backed up by a September study from the Health and Medicines Authority that just 3.9 percent of Danes aged 16-24 reported using drugs other than cannabis in the last 12 months.