CANNABIS, followed closely by alcohol, remains the drug of choice in Ballarat with half of those presenting to a local alcohol and drug program citing it as their primary drug. UnitingCare Ballarat Alcohol and Drug Program manager Peter Cranage said over a period of 12 months, UnitingCare saw 619 clients. Of those, 290 cited cannabis and 205 alcohol as their primary drug of use. A total of 186 clients presenting to the service stated alcohol was their secondary drug and 135 said cannabis was their secondary drug. However, Mr Cranage the numbers were just the tip of the iceberg. “These are the ones that accessed our service,” he said. “There are a lot of young people who are using drugs but not accessing services until (their use) becomes a problem.” Mr Cranage’s comments follow the publication of papers in leading medical journal The Lancet on global drug use and law enforcement. According to the paper, about 200 million people use illicit drugs worldwide each year, with the use highest in high-income countries. And compared with other world regions, Australia and New Zealand have the highest levels of marijuana and amphetamine use.Mr Cranage said those using illicit drugs in Ballarat were getting younger. “We are hearing about young people in primary school using drugs,” he said. “It is has become more of a trend over the last six or seven years.”While the youngest person to access the service was aged just 13, the majority were aged between 15 and 19. There were 321 men and 298 women accessing the service. “Ballarat’s got a big problem with alcohol and cannabis,” Mr Cranage said.