Chica consumiendo porro cannabis

Cannabis: the most commonly used drug in Europe according to the latest report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

  • Within the European illegal drug market, the cannabis market is the largest, involving around 25 million users and an estimated 11.6 billion Euros in the last year.
  • The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), in collaboration with Europol, EU’s law enforcement agency, have published the 2019 EU Drug Markets Report, in which cannabis continues being the most consumed illegal drug in the European Union.
  • In this post we review the trend followed by cannabis in the old continent according to EMCDDA.
Chica consumiendo porro cannabis

Mercado Drogas EU 2019

"Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in Europe: almost 20% of people aged between 15 and 24 claims having used cannabis in the last year". "According to surveys of the general population, it is estimated that around 1% of European adults are daily or almost daily cannabis users". These are the conclusions of the latest EMCDDA EU Drug Markets Report, which is published annually by the EMCDDA, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, in collaboration with Europol, EU's law enforcement agency. The report summarises the current situation of the market for illegal substances in Europe in the last tax year, and includes details of the market related to cannabis.

With regards to cannabis, this report shows a couple of main differences from last year's report. Firstly, that Europe is a major cannabis producer, which is concluded from the fact that around 20,000 cannabis cultivation sites are dismantled in the EU every year. Secondly, that the cannabis market is becoming more diverse and complex. Even though the most common methods for cannabis consumption are in resin format (hashish) or in herbal form (cannabis buds), the report mentions the appearance of new cannabis products: cannabis oils, cannabinoid synthetics, solutions for therapeutic use, and high-CBD / low-THC products. The report also emphasises the appearance of new high-potency concentrates, such as rosin or wax (BHO).

Where is the cannabis consumed in Europe actually produced?

"Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in the world and is reported to be produced in almost all countries in the world, both indoors and outdoors."

Regarding cannabis production outside the EU destined for the European market, the 2019 report states that Albania has been a major cannabis producer for Europe in the last few years. However, its production has significantly decreased due to the progressive seizure of cultivation sites by the Albanian authorities. 5205 cultivation sites were dismantled in Albania in 2016, 500 in 2017, and 379 in 2018. This shows a clear decrease in the number of cultivation sites, which translates into a decrease in cannabis production in this country.

As these figures decrease in Albania, they just get higher in Spain. The EMCDDA highlights the cannabis production increase in Spain in the last few years, which could be related to the existence of cannabis social clubs in the country. In the last year, this increase has also occurred in Italy and the United Kingdom. According to the report, domestic production in the UK is widely spread, with British and Vietnamese organised crime groups controlling these operations. Europol also points out that Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian OCGs are increasingly involved in cannabis indoor cultivation within the EU.

Where is hashish consumed in Europe actually produced?

Traditionally, the hashish consumed in Europe originated predominantly from Morocco, with countries like Afghanistan, Albania and Lebanon being secondary producers. But the order of importance of these countries in hash production has changed of late, according to the latest Drug Markets report. Based on the police seizures in some European countries, it has been concluded that most of the hashish consumed in the UK originates from Afghanistan. The 11 tonnes of Lebanese resin recently seized in Malta lead us to believe that this is also becoming widely available in Europe.

Given that most cannabis resin available in Europe comes from Morocco, it is not surprising that Spain is the European country that seizes the largest quantities. The report also highlights that most herbal cannabis in Europe is seized in Spain too. Regarding hashish, after Spain, the countries that seize the largest quantities are France and Italy.


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