The use of cannabis among 11- to 15-year-olds has dropped since the Government reclassified the drug in January last year, according to the first comprehensive figures released since the change.

The Department of Health’s annual Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2004 report shows that the number of young people who have taken cannabis in the past year has fallen to 11 per cent, down from 13 per cent for the previous three years.

A spokeswoman for drugs education charity DrugScope said the drop may be partly because of publicity caused by reclassifying cannabis as a class C rather than a class B drug. “Drug use has been fairly stable among this age group for a couple of years,” she said. “It is the first drop that we have seen, which is really positive.”

Overall drug use was also down slightly, from 21 per cent in 2003 to 18 per cent in 2004. The number of young people who were regular smokers remained stable at about nine per cent, and the number who had drunk alcohol in the past week fell from 25 per cent to 23 per cent.

The researchers received responses from 9,715 young people, from 313 schools across England.

www.statistics.gov.uk