Five Charts to Understand Cannabis Consumption in Europe

By: Kannabia Seed Company Blog

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction recently published a report that shows the popularity of cannabis in the European Union, consumption trends, and seizure data, which we can summarize in 5 graphs providing an “x-ray” of the current situation regarding cannabis on the Continent.

The EU is made up of 27 countries, some of which have enacted medical or recreational cannabis legalization to try to circumvent the black market. For example, in December 2021, Malta was the first EU country to legalize recreational cannabis. More recently, German officials have been working hard to develop a regulatory framework for the legalization of cannabis. Other EU countries are also currently working on their own versions of legalization, including Luxembourg, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

In this political context, the report issued by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), entitled “Cannabis: The Current Situation in Europe (European Drug Report 2023)”, describes cannabis as “by far the most consumed illicit substance in Europe.”

The report cites national surveys showing that 8% of European adults (approximately 22.6 million people aged 15-64) used cannabis in the past year. An estimated 1.3% of adults (approximately 3.7 million people) describe themselves as “daily” or “near-daily” consumers.

In 2021, the last year on which the seizure report is based, the quantities of cannabis resin and cannabis herb seized reached their highest level in a decade, indicating the widespread availability of cannabis. Spain accounts for 66% of the seizures in the European Union, and 74% of all reported seizures of cannabis plants in the EU, by weight.

This reflects the importance of Spain, both as a gateway country for cannabis trafficking and as a production area. It is believed that the higher amounts of cannabis resin seized in Europe, compared to cannabis in herb form, are owing to cannabis resin’s greater vulnerability to cross-border control measures rather than its availability or use, as cannabis as an herb appears to be the most common form available in most countries.

On the illicit market, the availability of high-potency extracts and edibles is of particular concern and has been linked to acute toxicity presentations in hospital emergencies, as some products sold as natural cannabis may be tainted with potent synthetic cannabinoids such as Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC), which was marketed in some EU Member States and sold as a “legal” alternative to cannabis, exacerbating the regulatory challenges in this area.

Let’s look more specifically at the data in a visual way:

Five Charts to Understand Cannabis Consumption in Europe
Prevalence and patterns of cannabis use in Europe

Last year, cannabis use among the EU’s population, in the 15-34 age bracket, was estimated at 15.1% (15.3 million), and men were usually twice as likely to report use as women. Among 15- to 24-year-olds, an estimated 18.2% (8.6 million) used cannabis in the past year, and 9.6% (4.5 million) used cannabis in the past month. It is estimated that around 1.3% (3.7 million) of adults (aged 15-64) use cannabis daily, or almost daily (i.e. 20 days or more in the last month). Among 15- to 34-year-olds, an estimated 2.1% (2.1 million) use cannabis daily or almost daily. About three-quarters of them are men, and the majority (57%) are under the age of 35.

Five Charts to Understand Cannabis Consumption in Europe

The European Drug Web Survey revealed that 95% of respondents who used cannabis in the last 12 months used cannabis in herb form, compared to 32% that used resin; 25%, edibles; and 17%, extracts.

Five Charts to Understand Cannabis Consumption in Europe
Traces of Cannabis in Wastewater in Selected European Cities

In 2022, of the 38 cities with comparable data, 15 reported an annual increase in the cannabis metabolite THC-COOH (the main indicator of THC in drug controls) in wastewater samples, while 17 reported a decrease.

Five Charts to Understand Cannabis Consumption in Europe
The Cannabis Market in Europe

In 2021, EU Member States reported 202,000 seizures of cannabis resin, totaling 816 tons (588 tons in 2020), and 240,000 seizures of cannabis herb, for a total of 256 tons (157 tons in 2020). In addition, approximately 566,000 crimes for cannabis use or possession were reported in the European Union in 2021 (555,000 in 2020), along with 100,000 supply crimes (99,000 in 2020).

In 2021 the average THC content of cannabis resin in the European Union was 20%, more than double that of cannabis herb, at 9.5%. However, samples of both forms of the drug can vary considerably.

Five Charts to Understand Cannabis Consumption in Europe
Users entering cannabis treatment in Europe

In Europe, an estimated 97,000 users entered specialized drug treatment for problems related to cannabis use (35% of all treatment demands) in 2021, with around 55,000 doing so for the first time. Cannabis was the main problematic substance cited most frequently by new patients in treatment, accounting for 45% of all those who started treatment for the first time in Europe.

Source and graphics: European Drug Report 2023: Trends and Developments

Kannabia Seeds Company sells to its customers a product collection, a souvenir. We cannot and we shall not give growing advice since our product is not intended for this purpose.

Kannabia accept no responsibility for any illegal use made by third parties of information published. The cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption is an activity subject to legal restrictions that vary from state to state. We recommend consultation of the legislation in force in your country of residence to avoid participation in any illegal activity.