Cannabis Campaign: British youth are 'biggest users in Europe'

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The Independent Online
Britain's 15-year-olds are more likely to use cannabis than their European counterparts, according to a study by the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD). British teenagers in the same age group are also the second largest users of the dance drug Ecstasy, and of amphetamine.

The research, carried out in 1995, is being compared by the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction - the Trimbos Institute - to a new survey of the drug-using patterns of Dutch teenagers due next month.

Where 41 per cent of UK 15-year-olds have used cannabis in their lifetime and 24 per cent had used the drug in the previous month, 29 per cent of Dutch 15-year-olds had used cannabis in their lifetime, while 15 per cent had used cannabis in the last month.

Inge Spruit, head of the Department of Addiction and Substance use at the Trimbos Institute said the figures showed that the decriminalisation of cannabis in the Netherlands had not led to more young people using cannabis in Holland than in other countries. While, with regard to Ecstasy, "our study shows policy cannot explain the lack of difference between our countries". Trimbos has been criticised in the past for "encouraging" the use of Ecstasy through involvement in Amsterdam- based schemes where the content of tablets is examined by experts in clubs so Ecstasy users are aware of whether pills contain MDMA, substances such as amphetamine or more toxic chemicals.