Use of cannabis

Norwegian drug policy has seen radical change in the recent years. The so-called Rusreformkomiteen (Intoxication Reform Committee) recently suggested decriminalizing the use of all drugs. Among the illegal substances, we see cannabis as unique, with by far the highest number of users. How do habits of use change from adolescence to young adulthood?

Use of cannabis graph

Figure 1 shows us that over time the percentage adds up to more than one out of three. In other words quite a lot of people have used cannabis at least once. The ones who were the first to try cannabis did so in their early teens. We then see a steepening of the curve towards the end of the teenage years and into the twenties, before it flattens out.

In Figure 2 we look closer at how many used cannabis within the last year. Here the patterns emerge even clearer: The peak of the curve is found between ages 18-24. At around age 30 the curve drops drastically. It is far less common to use cannabis once one is over the age of 30. The great majority has only used the substance a few times.

In Figure 3 we look at how many used cannabis 10 times or more within the last year. It shows us that the age dispersal is about the same as in the previous figure, but the percentage of people with this pattern of use is much lower. As with the previous figure we see a peak in the early twenties. Notice however that this percentage is only about 3%. Most individuals will experiment with cannabis, but only a small minority develop more encompassing patterns of use. This is one of the topics we have written extensively about, and both professionals and politicians have been very interested in our discoveries. These findings play into the work of developing a Norwegian drug policy currently being undertaken by our politicians.