While Amsterdam has a reputation for being the weed capital of the world, college students looking to do something vaguely rebellious during their junior year abroad should set their sights on a different hemisphere. It turns out that residents of the land Down Under consume more marijuana than any other people in the world.
According to the New York Times, a study in the Lancet found that about 15 percent of the populations of Australia and New Zealand between ages 15 and 64 had used marijuana in 2009. Despite a valiant effort from bored teenagers to bring up the national average, North America clocked in at only 11 percent. Asia came in at the bottom of the list, with only 2.5 percent of the population enjoying day to day activities ... on weed.
When asked why so many people in Australia and New Zealand are using marijuana, study co-author Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland said:
Just look at the way we take alcohol as an integral part of everyday life. I think a lot of young people see cannabis in the same way that we see alcohol: as no big deal, as a drug just to use to have a good time.
Three state in Australia have moved to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, and while in some parts of the world (cough) marijuana is still frequently lumped together with hard drugs, the facts support the "no big deal" attitude. Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug worldwide, but it's also the least likely to cause death. Unfortunately, while many Australians and New Zealanders are choosing a drug that's biggest dangers include giggling like an idiot for hours, the countries also top the list for amphetamine use.
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