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A cannabis reader: global issues and local experiences
Perspectives on cannabis controversies, treatment and regulation in Europe

Editors Sharon Rödner Sznitman, Börje Olsson, Robin Room


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This publication of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is protected by copyright. The EMCDDA accepts no responsibility orliability for any consequences arising from the use of the data contained in this document. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the official opinions of the EMCDDA's partners, any EU Member State or any agency or institution of the European Union or European Communities. A great deal of additional information on the European Union is available on the Internet. It can beaccessed through the Europa server (http://europa.eu).

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This publication should be referenced as: EMCDDA (2008), A cannabis reader: global issues and local experiences, Monograph series 8, Volume 2, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Lisbon.References to chapters in this monograph should include, where relevant, references to the authors of each chapter, together with a reference to the wider publication. For example: Corrigan, D. (2008), ‘The pharmacology of cannabis: issues for understanding its use’, in: A cannabis reader: global issues and local experiences, Monograph series 8, Volume 1, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and DrugAddiction, Lisbon. The publication is available on the Internet at: http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/monographs/cannabis Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2008 ISBN 978-92-9168-312-3 © European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2008 Reproduction is authorised provided thesource is acknowledged. Printed in Belgium

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Chapter 2 Measuring cannabis-related problems and dependence at the population level

Keywords: cannabis – cannabis use – disorders – intensive use – mental health – questionnaires – screening – survey design

Setting the context
While there is evidence of stabilisation or slight decline in usein some high-prevalence countries, cannabis use has, on the whole, increased in most European countries over the last 15 years, especially among adolescents and young adults. Despite strong public health interest, the commonly used indicators of cannabis use — lifetime and last year prevalence — aim to assess not problematic use but broader use patterns. Indicators of current use — last monthprevalence and frequency of use in the past month — provide indirect indications of the extent of more intensive forms of use and problematic use of drugs. Yet frequent use of cannabis does not necessarily imply that users will experience problems, so a more detailed picture is required. As Europe becomes increasingly sensitive to the health risks of cannabis use, particularly among high-prevalencepopulations, distinguishing between various kinds of use is vital to ensure that interventions are targeted to those most at risk. Nearly all EU countries now collect information on how many days cannabis has been used in the month prior to interview. However, standardisation remains far from complete: some collect number of days, others number of times smoked or less well-defined measures. TheEMCDDA, in collaboration with several national experts, is currently developing the methodological and conceptual framework necessary for monitoring ‘intensive forms of drug use’ to better identify those experiencing problems. Several projects to test psychometric instruments are under way in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom and, most recently, Spain (EMCDDA,...
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