European Drug Report: Cannabis Is EU's Most Popular Drug
July 17th, 2015
Categories : Blog
The latest report from European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has just been published, outlining the current drug situation amongst EU member countries. Whilst its results are not necessarily surprising, they are nonetheless interesting.
What is most interesting to use is the data pertaining to both cannabis and opiate use.
According to the report, cannabis remains the EU’s most popular drug, with 23.3% of people aged 16-64 having used it at least once in their lives. It also claims that use is on the rise, and that supply is more available than ever – highlighting the failure of the War on Drugs and current policies to curb its use.
Rather encouragingly, the report found that heroin use across the EU was very rare, with there being an estimated 1.3 million users across the entire EU (pretty small in the grand scheme of things). What was also great to hear was that small amount of people using heroin also appears to be declining. The amount of people seeking treatment for opiate use has also halved from 175,000 figure from 2013. Despite this, heroin and other opiates still remain the most associated with drug related death.
The report found cocaine to be the second most widely used drug in the EU, and was mostly used as a weekend drug or when on holiday. 4.6% of the population is estimated to have used cocaine at least once.
Like cocaine, ecstasy is seen as a party drug, often used by weekend clubbers. 36% of people said they have used ecstasy at least once in their lives.
3.5% of people said they had used amphetamines at least once in their lives. Although most amphetamines were reported to be used domestically, a significant amount were also produced for export to outside of the EU.
This information isn’t exactly a revelation, but it is certainly interesting to see, and the fact that it is being recorded is great. It gives us a clear understanding about usage trends, and it can help to display just how badly the War on Drugs is failing.
-- UPDATE –
Since the writing of this article, the EU Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs has convened to discuss the report, led by EU Drug Agency Director Wolfgang Götz. Each point was discussed in detail, with Götz seeing most of the results as positive. When it came to cannabis Götz acknowledged the sweeping legalization taking place in the US, stating that it was of great interest to the EU. In the EU cannabis accounts for 80% of all drug seizures, and arrests for personal use account for 60% of 1.25 million yearly drug offences.
It is clearly a problem, and as such Götz indicated that it is time for the EU to shift the focus from ideology based policy to one of rational science, and that the way we deal with drugs needs to evolve. With the 2016 UN general assembly on drugs is rapidly approaching, Götz urges the EU to stand up and support scientific based evidence, and use it as the basis for political discussion and decision making. In his own words: “ladies and gentlemen, I am deeply convinced that for a more effective drug policy approach in the future, we need more faith in evidence, in Europe, and internationally.”