A team of researchers has analysed cannabis consumption patterns among a nationally representative sample of 16- to 25-year-olds in India.
They found that around a third of cannabis users were young, and about half of those were in their first year of cannabis use.
In fact, the researchers believe that this number could be much higher as the study involved only young people.
They say the study could also shed light on the prevalence of substance use among younger people.
The researchers examined data from the India’s National Sample Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSSUH) conducted from 2008 to 2010.
They focused on the use of cannabis and related substances among the younger population, including those aged 15 to 24.
Researchers found that cannabis consumption among the youngest group had increased significantly since the 2008 survey, to 8% of the total population.
However, the number of young people in the study who were regularly using cannabis had declined to only 5% in 2010.
“Young people are the first generation to become cannabis users, so this is a great opportunity to understand how their habits are changing,” Dr Ajoy Pandey, lead author of the study from the University of Hyderabad and the Centre for the Study of Drug Dependence (CSD) at the University, said in a statement.
“Understanding how cannabis use is changing among the young is an important first step in helping us understand the potential of our country to host an emerging market for cannabis and other substances.”
The findings were published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
They are the second study to look at the consumption patterns of adolescents in India, following a similar study from 2013.
The CSD has been studying the use and use of substances among adolescents since 2010.
A second study by the same team in the same region found that while cannabis consumption was highest among the most economically advantaged groups, it also remained relatively low among young and disadvantaged people.
This study is the first to analyse data from across India, which is the country’s largest.
“This is a big first step and will help us understand how to best prepare for India’s emerging market,” CSD director Dr Sudhir Bose told the Times of India.
The study was carried out on behalf of the Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (IIMS), and included more than 15,000 young people across India.
“The results show that the youth in India are much more likely to use cannabis than previous studies,” said Dr Bose.
“We expect this to be a strong indicator of cannabis’ potential as a health supplement.”
The findings have been welcomed by the Indian government.
In April this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a bill into law that makes cannabis possession a criminal offence.
However this could still be changed.
“The results of the CSD study show that it is not only adolescents who are using cannabis,” said the CSB’s Dr Pandey.
“Our analysis suggests that the consumption of cannabis among the youth is on the rise.”
The research also suggested that the cannabis consumption amongst young people was related to the availability of jobs and the availability and availability of education.
This could have a big impact on the country as a whole.