University of Victoria professor of psychology Bonnie Leadbeater says youth develop five different patterns when it comes to marijuana use. (Submitted)

University of Victoria professor of psychology Bonnie Leadbeater says youth develop five different patterns when it comes to marijuana use. (Submitted)

Majority of Greater Victoria youth likely to be steady marijuana users: UVic study

UVic psychology researcher studied cannabis use among youth in Greater Victoria for more than a decade

Youth in Victoria are likely to develop one of five cannabis use patterns, says one University of Victoria professor of psychology.

Bonnie Leadbeater helped co-organize a 10-year study with St. Francis Xavier University, which ran from 2003-2013 and asked 662 local youths between the ages of 12 and 18 about their lives and drug and alcohol use patterns.

READ MORE: Victoria looking into cannabis lounge options as legalization approaches

From the research, Leadbeater found a high number of people who started using marijuana as a youth remained frequent users a decade later.

Leadbeater categorized 20 per cent of these people as “increasers,” people who started low and increased rapidly before slowly declining, and another 11 per cent as “chronic users” who start early in life and continue to use often.

“These people are less likely to have bachelors degrees, and have more problems with relationships and physical health,” Leadbeater said, adding this pattern did not apply to occasional users, who make up 27 per cent. “Some people used one or two times a month, and those folks didn’t have a lot of problems.”

“Canadian Youth and Marijuana: What can we expect?” was presented by University of Victoria psychologist Bonnie Leadbeater and lead author Kara Thompson at St. Francis Xavier University. (File contributed/Uvic)

Research also found 29 per cent of youth abstained from use altogether, and 14 per cent used heavily in their adolescence and steadily decreased their use over time.

“It’s not you either use it or your don’t, there’s a diverse pattern for youth,” Leadbeater said. “For some, it doesn’t seem to cause problem … but there’s evidence that marijuana will make your life worse if you use high levels of it.”

Leadbeater defines high use as 2.5 tokes per day.

READ MORE: B.C. waits to add ‘craft cannabis’ to its retail system

She added that the risk of becoming addicted to marijuana is much higher for youth than adults; 10 per cent of adults will become physically addicted to marijuana, while it jumps up to 17 per cent for youth. However, both of these figures are far below alcohol, tobacco and opioid addiction.

Leadbeater believes that youth are more prepared than ever to understand cannabis and the risks associated with it, based on interviews conducted with students at UVic and St. Francis Xavier.

“They are much more sophisticated in knowing how to use it,” she said. “They now don’t use it to cope, to sleep, or to deal with anxiety and depression. People can make wiser choices at this point.”

Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

cannabisLegalized MarijuanaUVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich council recently adopted a 131-step climate action plan expected to cost $2.5-million in the first year of implementation. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tensions high as Saanich considers reigniting local area plan review

Majority vote pushes discussion to fall strategic plan check-in

Camp Barnard during the 2019 Pacific Jamboree. (Photo: Camp Barnard)
Camp Barnard near Sooke hopes fundraiser will help it progress on accessibility goals

I Care ‘Bout Camp challenge hopes to raise $100,000 for new lodge, replaced kitchen

Oaklands Elementary’s Division 5 Grade 4/5 class posed with Leila Bui (middle), her dad Tuan Bui (crouching to her left) and mom Kairry Nguyen (right) after presenting the family with a cheque for $710 raised by the students during a necklace sale in December 2020. (Photos courtesy Kairry Nguyen)
Victoria students raise funds for girl seriously injured when struck by vehicle in crosswalk

Oaklands Elementary class contributes to purchase of all-terrain wheelchair for Leila Bui

Saanich Fire Department. (Black Press Media file photo)
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Alphabet Zoo Early Learning Centre wants to relocate from Langford to 3322 Fulton Rd. in Colwood, but has not been approved for a P-6 zoning by Colwood council. Residents who neighbour the property, have expressed concern to the Goldstream Gazette regarding the potential daycare site. Neighbours Ryan Landa and Selene Winchester said the noise of construction has been disruptive to the area, and the property is not suitable for a daycare. (Photo contributed/Ryan Landa)
Proposed West Shore daycare stirs up controversy amongst neighbours

Neighbouring property owners are concerned about traffic, noise that a daycare would bring to the area

Const. Nancy Saggar, who has 11 years in policing, offers advice for other women who may pursue both policing and family. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pregnancy prompts sage advice from RCMP officer for women thinking about policing

West Shore constable with 11 years experience heads off on maternity leave

Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Fingers crossed that procedure can give Cole Moore a new lease on life after decade of seizures

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

Most Read