NZ Herald November 08, 2007
Addiction agencies are seeing primary school children smoking cannabis, despite a slight drop in adult use of the drug.
Rotorua counselling agency Te Utuhina Manaakitanga Trust said yesterday that children as young as 7 were getting help for cannabis addiction.
Clinical co-ordinator June Bythell said the agency was still seeing a steady increase in clients seeking help with cannabis and alcohol. “We have a major problem with cannabis in our area. People are trying to make changes but it is a huge struggle for them,” she said.
Other agencies in Auckland and Hamilton said they were also seeing more children starting to smoke cannabis in primary school.
Figures released this week showed that cannabis use by 15- to 45-year-olds had dropped for the first time in many years – from 20.4 per cent in 2003 to 17.9 per cent last year. But New Zealand still has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the developed world, second only to Canada in the last World Drug Report.
Dr Grant Christie, a child psychiatrist with the Auckland Community Alcohol and Drugs Service, said his agency commonly saw young people who had started smoking cannabis as early as 11. He said the drug was usually given to children by their parents, a sibling or sometimes an older friend of the family. “They are very dysfunctional families, they are not your typical everyday families. There is usually CYFS involvement, there are usually multiple agencies involved,” he said.
Rotorua Daily Post