South African Journal of Psychiatry

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Cannabis use trends in South Africa

K Peltzer, S Ramlagan


The purpose of this review is to synthesise cannabis use data from surveys, specialised alcohol and drug treatment centres, cannabis-related trauma unit admissions and arrestee studies over the past 12 years in South Africa. Results indicate that cannabis is the most common illicit substance used in South Africa, with particularly high use among the youth. Current self-reported cannabis use was 5 - 10% among adolescents and 2% among adults, higher among men than women, higher in urban than rural areas, higher in the urban provinces of Western Cape and Gauteng than the other provinces and higher among coloureds and whites than other racial groups. Cannabis is commonly misused by trauma patients (29 - 59%) and is often associated with crime (39%). There has been an increase in seizures and treatment demand for cannabis. The current (2006) treatment demand for the whole country was 17% for cannabis and 3.4% for cannabis and mandrax (methaqualone), which has implications for treatment service delivery. Screening and brief intervention of substance (cannabis) use should be included in health care settings.

South African Journal of Psychiatry Vol. 13 (4) 2007: pp. 126-131
AJOL African Journals Online