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What’s the Current Situation of the Cannabis Market in Europe

Cannabis remains Europe’s most widely used illicit substance, with 8% of adults (22.8 million people) using it in the last year. Usage varies across countries. Daily users total 1.3% (3.7 million), mostly young men. Health risks include addiction, psychotic symptoms, and respiratory problems. National policies and cultural approaches influence cannabis use patterns and prevalence.



cannabis market

Cannabis remains the most widely used illicit substance in Europe. In recent years, European countries have been changing their approach to this substance, which requires detailed analysis and understanding of the current situation of the cannabis market

In this article, we present the current status of the cannabis market in Europe based on the latest report “Cannabis – the current situation in Europe (European Drug Report 2024)”. We also analyze changing trends in the cannabis market and the legislative responses of individual countries. Relying on data from the report “ Cannabis – the current situation in Europe (European Drug Report 2024) ” allows us to obtain a reliable picture that can be the basis for further discussions and actions in the field of drug policy.

CAnanbis market: Patterns of cannabis use in Europe

Cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance in Europe. It is estimated that 8% of European adults (around 22.8 million people aged 15 to 64) have used cannabis in the last year. However, usage levels and trends vary from country to country. National surveys indicate variability in the prevalence and patterns of marijuana use, which may be the result of different national policies and cultural approaches to the substance.

Data shows that around 1.3% of adults in the European Union, or 3.7 million people, use marijuana every day or almost every day. Most cannabis users are men under 35 years of age. In the 15-34 age group, 15% of the population has used cannabis in the last year, and in the 15-24 age group this figure is 18.6%. Daily users in this age group make up approximately 2% of the population, meaning young men are particularly at risk from regular cannabis use.

Health problems related to cannabis use

Using marijuana, like other psychoactive substances, may be associated with certain health consequences, both physical and mental. However, it is worth noting that the risks associated with marijuana are often lower compared to many other substances such as alcohol or tobacco.

Cannabis addiction: Regular use of marijuana can lead to the development of addiction, although the risk is lower than with other substances such as opioids or alcohol. Addicted people may experience difficulty controlling their use, which can affect various aspects of their lives, although most users do not experience serious addiction-related problems.

Psychotic symptoms : For some people, especially those predisposed to mental illness, long-term and heavy marijuana use may be associated with an increased risk of psychotic symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations. However, most users do not experience these effects, and these risks are usually associated with high doses or high- THC products.

Chronic respiratory problems : Smoking marijuana, like smoking tobacco, can lead to respiratory problems such as cough and bronchitis. Alternative consumption methods, such as vaping or consuming Edibles, may reduce these risks.

Educational and legal problems

Cannabis use can also impact educational and legal aspects, although these impacts are often more complex and dependent on many factors.

Educational achievement : Some research suggests that regular marijuana use at a young age may affect educational achievement. However, this influence is often small and may be related to other factors, such as social context or individual predispositions. Many people who use marijuana achieve well in their studies and careers.

Justice system : In some countries, marijuana use can lead to problems with the justice system, including arrests and penalties for drug possession or trafficking. Decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana, as is the case in several European countries, could reduce these risks and allow for better management of marijuana use in a public health context.

Taking these aspects into account is crucial to understanding the full picture of marijuana’s impact on health and society, as well as to shaping effective and fair drug policy.

Trend in the European cannabis market

The cannabis market in Europe is dynamic and constantly changing. One of the main trends is the increase in the number of marijuana seizures, while the amount of hashish seized is decreasing. In 2022, EU countries reported 243,000 seizures of hashish, a total of 468 tonnes, and 234,000 seizures of dried cannabis, a total of 265 tonnes. Spain plays a significant role in the market, being a key transit country and producer of marijuana in Europe. In 2022, Spain accounted for 69% of all hashish seizures, 47% of marijuana seizures and 81% of all reported cannabis plant seizures in the EU.

The potential of cannabis available on the European cannabis market is growing. The average strength of hashish is currently around 25% THC, which is a very high concentration compared to previous years. In turn, the potency of plant marijuana remains stable and amounts to approximately 10% THC. The increase in potency of hemp resin poses increased health risks, especially for young users who are more susceptible to the negative health effects associated with high THC content.

New products and forms of cannabis

In recent years, the European cannabis market has seen an increase in the variety of marijuana products available. Traditional plant-based marijuana and hashish still dominate, but new forms are also emerging and gaining popularity. These include:

Edible products: Edible products containing marijuana, such as cookies, chocolates and chewing gum, are becoming more common. Users prefer them because they are discreet and do not require smoking.

Extracts: Marijuana extracts , such as oils, concentrates and waxes, are available in increasing quantities. They are characterized by high THC content, which attracts users looking for stronger effects.

High-potency products : Products with extremely high THC content are appearing on the market, which may increase the health risks associated with their use. The increased availability of these products requires greater attention from regulatory authorities.

In addition to traditional cannabis products, semi-synthetic cannabinoids such as HHC, HHC-P and THCP have also appeared on the market . These substances are often made from cannabidiol ( CBD ) extracted from low-THC hemp (industrial hemp). They are marketed as “legal” alternatives to marijuana, which creates new regulatory challenges. Knowledge about the effects of these substances in humans is limited, but there are reports of their potential side effects, including links to psychosis. Some EU countries have already classified HHC as a controlled substance .

Political approaches to cannabis in Europe

European countries have different approaches to legalizing and regulating the use of marijuana. In recent years, several countries have taken steps to change their policies:

Malta : In December 2021, Malta introduced regulations allowing the cultivation of marijuana for personal use and its use in private places. Cannabis clubs are also allowed to operate on a non-profit basis.

Luxembourg : In July 2023, Luxembourg legalized the cultivation of marijuana for personal use and its use in private places.

Germany : In February 2024, Germany introduced regulations allowing the cultivation of marijuana for personal use and the operation of cannabis clubs.

Czech Republic : Announced plans to create a regulated and taxed marijuana distribution system

Pilot sales and distribution projects

Switzerland : Started pilot marijuana sales programs for specific groups of residents in selected cities.
Netherlands : Piloting a closed cannabis supply chain program in 10 municipalities, where cannabis produced under controlled conditions is sold in cannabis cafes.

Cannabis use data

Marijuana use is particularly common among younger Europeans. In the 15-34 age group, approximately 15% of the population has used marijuana in the last year. In the 15-24 age group, this percentage is even higher and amounts to 18.6%. These data indicate significant levels of marijuana consumption among young people.

Wastewater analysis provides additional information on the level of marijuana use in various European cities. A 2023 study conducted in 51 cities found that 20 of these cities saw an increase in the levels of THC-COOH, a marijuana metabolite, in wastewater samples, while a decline was observed in 15 cities. Wastewater analysis provides a valuable tool for monitoring the actual level of marijuana consumption at the urban level, which can help formulate appropriate policies and interventions.

Treatment for cannabis addiction

In 2022, approximately 92,000 people sought treatment for cannabis-related problems, accounting for 36% of all presentations to specialist drug treatment facilities in Europe. Of these people, approximately 58,000 sought treatment for the first time. Marijuana was the most frequently cited problem substance by new patients, accounting for 43% of all new reports.

Marijuana-related health problems require a variety of therapeutic interventions. The most commonly used treatments are psychosocial interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy. There is also an increasing availability of online interventions that can be effective in reaching a wider group of users.

Conclusions on teh cananbis market in Europe

The report “Cannabis – the current situation in Europe (European Drug Report 2024)” provides a comprehensive picture of the current situation related to cannabis in Europe. The increase in the prevalence of use among young people, the variety of products available, and changes in national policy pose public health and regulatory challenges.

Shaping effective drug policy requires understanding both the benefits and risks of marijuana. Introducing appropriate regulations that will protect public health and at the same time respect individual rights is crucial. In the future, it will be necessary to continue to monitor the situation and conduct research on the effectiveness of different approaches to regulation and treatment.

Due to the dynamically changing marijuana market in Europe, it is necessary to conduct continuous research and monitor the situation. Only this way will it be possible to respond appropriately to new challenges and protect public health. Research should focus on assessing the effectiveness of various interventions and monitoring the long-term effects of marijuana use.


(Featured image by Margo Amala via Unsplash)

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First published in Fakty Konopne. A third-party contributor translated and adapted the articles from the originals. In case of discrepancy, the originals will prevail.

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Arturo Garcia started out as a political writer for a local newspaper in Peru, before covering big-league sports for national broadsheets. Eventually he began writing about innovative tech and business trends, which let him travel all over North and South America. Currently he is exploring the world of Bitcoin and cannabis, two hot commodities which he believes are poised to change history.