Up to 40 per cent of 15- and 16-year-olds have tried the drug at least once, according to a survey by the EU's drugs monitoring agency. They also have the worst record for glue-sniffing, with 20 per cent having tried it. Ecstasy, amphetamine, LSD and heroin abuse is thought to be higher here than anywhere else in the EU.
Drug czar Keith Hellawell stressed the EU data was based on figures from 1995. More recent, "encouraging" research in the UK showed that, though 30 per cent of 15-year-olds had tried cannabis, only 10 per cent had used it in the last year.