Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction


Youth substance use is an important health issue. Adolescents’ brains are undergoing rapid and extensive development that can be affected by regular substance use. This use can lead to negative impacts on mental and physical health, including addiction and mental health disorders. The research section summarizes the potential risks and harms of youth substance use, while providing resources and tools to help people make informed decisions.

Students and Cannabis Use

After alcohol, cannabis is one of the most commonly used psychoactive substances among Canadian students aged 15 to 19. Successful prevention and harm reduction strategies for youth using cannabis need to provide a clear understanding of use and harms. After pooling the results of student surveys from 2007 to 2015, the data reveals that:

  • Up to one third of students in grades 7 to 12 reported using cannabis in the past year.
  • Cannabis use decreased overall, especially more frequent use.
  • Male students were more likely than female students to report using cannabis frequently.
  • Approximately one in five students who have used cannabis drove a motorized vehicle after using cannabis.

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