Swiss teens among Europe’s top pot smokers

Cannabis is the most frequently used drug in Europe - 14.6 million young adults in 2014 Keystone

Switzerland has one of the highest percentages of 15-year-old cannabis smokers in Europe, just behind France, said a World Health Organization (WHO) report published on Tuesday. 

This content was published on March 15, 2016 - 15:28

In Switzerland, 15% of 15-year-old boys and 9% of girls said they had used cannabis in the past 30 days, according to the WHO studyExternal link, based on data from 42 countries from 2014. Switzerland was pipped by young stoners from France (16% of boys) and was level with Italy (15% of boys). 

In addition, 29% of 15-year-old boys and 19% of girls said they had smoked cannabis at least once in their lifetime. Just ahead were France and Estonia; the international average is 15%. 

Cannabis is the most frequently used drug in Europe, with 14.6 million young adults using it in 2014. 

“Young people in their teens are more likely to use cannabis if they have friends or older siblings who do so,” the study found. Liberal parenting or its opposite – “coercive discipline” – also correlated with higher rates of marijuana use.

Less alcohol

The WHO survey is carried out every four years and examines risky behaviour and self-perception among 11-, 13- and 15-year-olds in Europe, North America and Israel. 

The study also found that 37% of 15-year-olds in Switzerland had tried a cigarette in their lifetime and 6% of 15-year-old Swiss boys and girls smoke every day. Bulgaria tops the European league – 17% of 15-year-old boys and 25% of girls – but they are still far behind Greenland: 43% of boys and 46% of girls. 

Swiss teenagers consume much less alcohol than in the other countries surveyed: 6% of Swiss 15-year-olds said they drank beer at least once a week, compared with 3% for alcopops, 2% wine and 3% spirits.

Pot pilot project

Cannabis may go on sale in certain pharmacies in the Swiss capital after the city authorities approved a pilot project by Bern University.

On Monday the city government announced it had commissioned a study into the effects of selling cannabis in pharmacies. Under the pilot project, cannabis would be sold in participating Bern pharmacies. Users over 18, living in Bern and already using cannabis, would be monitored. The project must still be agreed by the federal government before it can go ahead.

Growing, consuming and dealing cannabis are all forbidden in Switzerland. But under a 2013 law, like a simple traffic offence, anyone over 18 caught in possession of up to ten grams of cannabis will receive a CHF100 ($110) fine and not have it put on their criminal record.

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