ALMOST one in five young marijuana users say the Body Shop's hemp promotion influenced someone they know to experiment with the drug, according to a survey. The survey, released by Caritas Youth and Community Service in Aberdeen yesterday, was based on interviews with 108 marijuana users aged between 13 and 31 in December and January. The people questioned were either Caritas clients or had contact with its social services. Forty-three per cent thought commercial hemp products raised people's awareness of the drug and influenced them to try it. Almost 44 per cent said the products lowered their psychological resistance to experimenting, while 48 per cent said they led people to believe the drug had no adverse health effects. 'The controversy over hemp products erupted shortly before we started [the survey] so we decided to include these questions,' said Caritas social worker Fung Hing-kau. In questions relating to commercial hemp products, 20 people, or 18.7 per cent, said they knew someone who started using marijuana as a direct result of the promotion of commercial hemp products. The Body Shop was not named in the report but Mr Fung identified the company after the report was released. Caritas Youth and Community Service supervisor Lam Wai-fan criticised the company for using the drug to promote its health products. 'We strongly object to using the drug as a commercial means to attract customers,' Ms Lam said. Body Shop general manager Marcus Tancock last night expressed surprise at the survey's findings. 'It's obviously of concern to us. Hemp and marijuana are two different things entirely. We never used the drug to promote our products,' he said. The link between the two substances might have been drawn by media reports of the controversy, he said. The Body Shop had voluntarily withdrawn all hemp products including soap, skin cream and lip balm in November, after discovering they violated SAR drug laws. The products contained small amounts of tetrahydro-cannabinol, the psycho-active ingredient in marijuana, but experts pointed out it was present in quantities far too small to have any mind-altering effect. The survey also found 68 per cent of marijuana users had more than 10 friends who used drugs. About half characterised drug abuse as widespread in their neighbourhoods. Fifty-three per cent said they had been smoking marijuana for more than one year. Seventy-seven per cent said they usually smoked the drug with friends and did not pay for it.