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Sweden targets cannabis use

Sweden targets cannabis use

Published: 17 Jul 2011 11:23 GMT+02:00
Updated: 17 Jul 2011 11:23 GMT+02:00

Cannabis use is increasing sharply in Sweden, particularly among young men in larger cities. Lower-income areas, where unemployment is high and education levels low are stricken especially hard by this development.

A government initiative to combat the growing cannabis use is now in the works.

Nearly 40 percent of boys in certain inner-city secondary schools in Stockholm have tried drugs at some point, showed a recent survey. This figure has risen by 10 percent in just 4 years.

At Maria Ungdom, the Stockholm clinic that handles drunkenness and drug use among young people, this development is referred to as an "epidemic".

"We're seeing historically high figures," said Stefan Sparring, manager of Maria Ungdom, to newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

"When enough people are using it, you reach a point where it's considered socially acceptable. I think we're nearing that point. Marijuana is no longer seen as stigmatising, since so many are using it. The same kids who're trying alcohol are now trying marijuana," he explained.

This is an opinion echoed by the police, who have also noticed problems with cannabis use accelerating.

"We're seeing a constant growth," said Ludvig Sandberg, detective inspector of the Stockholm police force.

The centre-right government is investing 50 million kronor ($7.7 million) in a bid to control this spread.

The money, which is the largest initiative against cannabis to date, will be used partly for an information campaign about the dangers of cannabis, but also in efforts to help young people at risk of addiction.

"We don't want to moralise, but simply show medical and judicial facts as arguments," explained Maria Larsson, the minister for children and elderly, to Dagens Nyheter.

"We've seen a dramatic growth of use, as well as of the percentage of school kids trying marijuana," she said.

The Swedish National Institute on Public Health (Folkhälsoinstitutet) will be in charge of developing a plan for the initiative, which will be presented later this fall.

TT/Clara Guibourg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:59 July 17, 2011 by Mina08
What a wast of our money, spend more on combating problems with hard drugs like, Alcohol, tobacco, Herion, cocaine, amphetamines....look at other european countries who have declassed cannabis to save millions on legal costs...
12:22 July 17, 2011 by TheOriginalBlackMan
Marijuana is attractive to young people because it gives one a euphoric high at the same time it's a communal drug (the same can be said about alcohol). I do not smoke and the people I knew who did have since stopped because it does not do anything for them.

Now the tactic the government is taking, labeling "poor people" and inner city (Stockholm is an inner city) as marijuana smokers will backfire. I would recommend the government legalize marijuana. Since, it is definitely not solely being done by poor people.i.e. immigrant youth and adults.

The more you lie about who is smoking marijuana the more it will increase. Nevertheless, legalize it. Marijuana's allure will drop 100 fold if the government ends the proabition.

Side note: I wonder if they will discuss the hard facts of practicing homosexuality? Hmmm!
14:57 July 17, 2011 by DamnImmigrant
Isn't it time to legalize it? No wasted law enforcement money AND we get tax revenue from the sales too!

I much rather be around people who use cannabis than those who use other drugs, legal or illegal. They just behave better.

I have not "seen" any dangers of cannabis use. Other drugs - I have seen death!
15:32 July 17, 2011 by Dazzler
Wonder what those dangers are. Perhaps they should do a side by side comparison with alcohol and amphetamines.
16:05 July 17, 2011 by zooeden
50 million kronor ($7.7 million), Someone HAS to realize that it´s not gonna work, but swedish people live in such a bubble that seems reasonable at some extent. However, demographics have change, information is wide spread and whoever tells me that a joint is not stigmized by society is plain idiot.

Yes, you want to spread reefer madness movies across the country so your teens know about the facts??? Good luck with that, I´ll have a smile while talking about it and a puff!!!
17:34 July 17, 2011 by DamnImmigrant
@TheOriginalBlackMan - "...The more you lie about who is smoking marijuana the more it will increase..."

I would remove the "WHO IS" smoking from that sentence and just stress the fact that "The more you lie about smoking marijuana the more it will increase." The worst problem with the government lying about those "extreme" dangers of cannabis, is when people find out there are no extreme dangers inherent in cannabis, and that it might in fact be less dangerous than alcohol -- people will then figure that the government is lying about the other drugs being bad too. Which causes them to try the other drugs as well. I have seen this happen.

@TheOriginalBlackMan - "...Nevertheless, legalize it. Marijuana's allure will drop 100 fold if the government ends the proabition."

Yes again! The first time I heard people tell me that it would be "NO FUN" if it was legalized, I was shocked. I think there is a sizable number who use it BECAUSE it is illegal. I have also noticed that the older people get, the LESS they use it.

@Dazzler - "...Perhaps they should do a side by side comparison with alcohol and amphetamines"

HEY! Leave my amphetamines out of this. They really help to calm me (ADHD) down but I will admit they don't have the same affect on everyone.

Tried to find such a table of drug comparisons but nothing jumped out from the Internet.

zooeden, reefer madness is a real movie based on the facts! I know because my government told me so. Reefer madness is real, just look at what it did at this wedding - http://www.thelocal.se/34990/20110717/
20:58 July 17, 2011 by J Jack
I don't know where the so called Govt. organization got their research but it's quite off. We all know that information is the best road and in that they are right but they are barking up the wrong tree. Grass is pretty hard to find in Sweden which is dominated by approx 90 % hash, which is a different thing, so exactly where is all this green coming from? Are The Local referring to the two in the same? Alcohol is the gateway drug! Am's & XTC usually follow smartly with youngsters. Mostly old farts like me smoke dope. When I moved to Amsterdam my consumption was halved immediately and I enjoyed it when it was appropriate, Legally. If I had stayed in Sweden any longer it would have just got worse because it was a power rush breaking the law.
21:56 July 17, 2011 by dockmandock
Legalise cannabis.
22:53 July 17, 2011 by Ivan Juric
Legalise cannabis...a substance that causes psychosis and life long problems for the user!!!!!
01:22 July 18, 2011 by AugustWest
Save the children

Tax and regulate canabis!

Otherwise.........

http://www.archive.org/details/reefer_madness1938
03:40 July 18, 2011 by Grokh
thats not enough money to combat the propaganda made by big starts and media on cannabis use, waste of money, any idiot that says theres nothing wrong with cannabis is clearly ignorant same as anyone who says alcohol and cigarrets arent drugs.

they are all drugs just because one is more accepted than the other doesnt make it less of a drug.

the idea that all ppl do when they smoke cannabis is eat and laugh is very shortsighted and naive.

If people are so for legalizing drugs why dont they move to mexico? all drugs are legal there im sure all people do is get high laugh and eat.

if they legalize it then they will have to ban for kids bellow 18 , and then its the same problem all over again because u have to prevent children from getting it, peopel still get cancer and breathing problems from smoking it, children get brain damaged from it because their brain is still under development.

basically wtv is done about it , for it or against it will create problems.
09:42 July 18, 2011 by Liquidmonkey
@ #11

yes, its a drug BUT it causes a lot less problems than alcohol or smoking does.

ask any cop what gives them more problems on the weekends, they will almost always say alcohol.

allowing a 'personal use' law to pass would be great.

sweden is really stuck in a stigma where they think weed does extreme damage but yet smoking is rampant among the teens again.

as of yet, i've never seen any of this extreme damage that weed causes.
11:50 July 18, 2011 by Lostaussie
It is an extremely dangerous chemical that causes involuntary masturbation and chronic RSI. That been said, it is obvious why it is the Immigrants drug of choice :)
16:38 July 18, 2011 by Marc the Texan
Maria Larsson doesn't want to moralize, but that's exactly what she's doing. There are plenty of things that are much more harmful than Marijuana. The anti-drug hysteria is difficult to sober up from, especially when your philosophies were forged during the era of the war on drugs. This woman needs treatment for her unhealthy obsession with the market for for a specific drug. Once she is cured she can't sit back and and observe the wisdom of the market. Marijuana is popular, because it is now common knowledge that it's evils were a paper tiger. Let the market work. Let the novelty play out and with reliable information it will follow the path of other legal drugs. The same goes for harder drugs as well. The biggest way that hard drugs ruin lives is through the social and legal penalties levied on their users. All these illegal drugs are paper tigers driven by international governmental propaganda machines.
17:31 July 18, 2011 by swedejane
No one ever smoked too much pot and beat their wife. The typical swede's attitude about marijuana is naive at best.
17:46 July 18, 2011 by groverpm
Legalise it already! While it's not legal in the Netherlands it has been decriminalised. The percentage of youths who use it in the Netherlands is one of the lowest in Europe. Of course this is set to change when the right-wing government makes the "coffeshops" members only due to pressure from the likes of Sweden, France and Germany where use amongst the youth is far higher. This in turn will lead to more street drug dealing and it won't be restricted to weed. The number of (hard drug)addicts, which has been falling for the past 20 years, will also rise. It seems nobody in Europe has noticed what happened in Portugal. Drugs for personal use were decriminalised. Drug-related crime fell as did the number of HIV and Hep C infections. The war on drugs is a waste of money!
18:41 July 18, 2011 by jamesblish
The world keeps evolving but our politicians don't. It's frankly embarrassing to see this rhetoric in use 30-something years after it was abandoned by most of the other industrialized countries. Let it go and stop wasting my money.
05:47 July 19, 2011 by Da Goat
Good luck too anybody stupid enough to smoke this rubbish weed and probably good riddance too!

might seem to be a fun thing to do but it is frying your brain or your balls so if you have finished using these body parts then go for it,either way you don't qualify for a Darwin award!
18:10 July 19, 2011 by axiom
The prohibition all over again.

Don't we ever learn?

Decriminalize most of these soft drugs and get over with it.
15:20 July 20, 2011 by fishpicks
While the rest of the world is starting to look in a different direction to tackle the huge issue of drugs and the right to consume them. Sweden is still as stubborn as ever in this issue and going in the complete opposite direction, following a principle that has since its start been a failure of gigantic proportion.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_the_war_on_drugs/

Please sign to help further the struggle to end the 'War on Drugs'.
12:49 July 21, 2011 by donutwallah
I find it surprising that Sweden, so forward-looking in many respects, is so backward in regard to cannabis.
18:47 July 22, 2011 by skylarkpilot
Okay....whatever you think regarding the dangers of cannabis use there is one simple fact.

It is supplied by criminals that make a living out of it.

If you legalise it do you think they will simply stop being criminals or do you think they will find other criminal endeavours such as robbery and burglary.

Whatever you do it will be wrong !
21:17 July 22, 2011 by Coalbanks
How about making sex without a condom illegal? Sex transmits disease so....
17:33 July 23, 2011 by Unconditional1
Sweden can follow the US, down the futile road to financial ruin on this issue. Just wait until your jails, prisons, legal system, recovery centers...are clogged, fiscally bloated, and overflowing with recreational users. Spend your valuable resources going after those hard-core criminals, who have the audacity to indulge in a puff of pot and a glass of wine, while making dinner in the privacy of their own homes. Or , better yet, arrest those scurvy "medicinal Marijuana" users who, so brazenly treat their ailments with a medicine of their choice, when nothing else prescribed by their doctors works for them.

Take a page from the US, and see how well a war on marijuana works.
08:49 July 27, 2011 by 420
Legalisera! I use cannabis for spiritual and recreational purposes when in my homeland where it is semi-tolerated for such purposes and fully legal for medicinal purposes.The ignorance of the Swedish establishment on this issue is astounding for a people that pride themselves on 'openness' and being a 'knowledge-based' society.
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