Cannabis use trends in South Africa

Karl Peltzer, Shandir Ramlagan


The purpose of this review is to synthesise cannabis use datafrom surveys, specialised alcohol and drug treatment centres,cannabis-related trauma unit admissions and arrestee studiesover the past 12 years in South Africa.Results indicate that cannabis is the most common illicitsubstance used in South Africa, with particularly high useamong the youth. Current self-reported cannabis use was 5 -10% among adolescents and 2% among adults, higher amongmen than women, higher in urban than rural areas, higherin the urban provinces of Western Cape and Gauteng thanthe other provinces and higher among coloureds and whitesthan other racial groups. Cannabis is commonly misused bytrauma patients (29 - 59%) and is often associated with crime(39%). There has been an increase in seizures and treatmentdemand for cannabis. The current (2006) treatment demandfor the whole country was 17% for cannabis and 3.4% forcannabis and mandrax (methaqualone), which has implicationsfor treatment service delivery. Screening and brief interventionof substance (cannabis) use should be included in health caresettings.

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Submitted: 08 January 2008
Published: 01 December 2007

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)