The 2012/13 New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS) provides valuable information about cannabis use by adults aged 15 years and over. It builds upon and adds value to the findings of the 2007/08 New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey report on cannabis.
This report presents information on cannabis use in New Zealand, including patterns of use, drug-driving, harms from use (productivity and learning, and mental health), legal problems, and cutting down and seeking help. Information on the medicinal use of cannabis is also presented.
Patterns of cannabis use
Eleven percent of adults aged 15 years and over reported using cannabis in the last 12 months (defined here as cannabis users). Cannabis was used by 15% of men and 8.0% of women. Māori adults and adults living in the most deprived areas were more likely to report using cannabis in the last 12 months. Thirty-four percent of cannabis users reported using cannabis at least weekly in the last 12 months. Male cannabis users were more likely to report using cannabis at least weekly in the last 12 months.
Cannabis and driving
Thirty-six percent of cannabis users who drove in the past year reported driving under the influence of cannabis in the last 12 months. Men were more likely to have done so.
Cannabis-related learning and productivity harms
Six percent of cannabis users reported harmful effects on work, studies or employment opportunities, 4.9% reported difficulty learning, and 1.7% reported absence from work or school in the last 12 months due to cannabis use.
Cannabis and mental health harms
Eight percent of cannabis users reported a time in the last 12 months that cannabis use had a harmful effect on their mental health. Younger cannabis users (aged 25–34 years) were most affected, with reported harm to mental health decreasing markedly by age 55+ years.
Cannabis and legal problems
Two percent (2.1%) of cannabis users reported experiencing legal problems because of their use in the last 12 months.
Cutting down and help to reduce cannabis use
Most cannabis users (87%) did not report any concerns from others about their use. Seven percent of cannabis users reported that others had expressed concern about their drug use or had suggested cutting down drug use within the last 12 months. Of cannabis users, 1.2% had received help to reduce their level of drug use in the last 12 months. Few cannabis users who wanted help did not get it (3.6%).
Cannabis use for medicinal purposes
Forty-two percent of cannabis users reported medicinal use (ie, to treat pain or another medical condition) in the last 12 months. Rates were similar for men and women. Older cannabis users (aged 55+ years) reported higher rates of medicinal use.
An infographic (PDF, 174 KB) provides a short overview of these findings.
The methodology report for the 2012/13 New Zealand Health Survey is also available on this website.
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