Highest rates of cannabis use

Up to 15 per cent of 15 to 64 year olds in the two countries use cannabis, while 2.8 per cent of the same age group use drugs such as speed and crystal meth. The latter figure does not include use of ecstasy.

The data is part of a series of papers published in The Lancet examining global drug use and law enforcement, which was led by Professor Louisa Degenhardt, who is based at UNSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC).

In 2009 in Oceania, 10 to 15 per cent of people had used marijuana in the previous year, compared with 1.2 to 2.5 per cent in Asia.

The authors report that in a high-income country such as Australia, illicit drugs are responsible for 2 per cent of years lost due to disability, compared with 2.3 per cent for alcohol and 7.8 per cent for tobacco.

The study has been reported extensively around the world, including in the Sydney Morning Herald.

For a review of the research, go to NDARC’s website