The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released its World Drug Report 2022 which provides an in-depth analysis of the various legal and illegal global drug markets and paints a comprehensive picture of measurable effects and impact of the COVID-19 crisis and the various legalizations.
It also examines this year the links between drugs and the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change and environmental sustainability. The report covers all drugs, but here we will focus on cannabis.
Highlights of the report
Regarding cannabis, here are the main points of this report.
Overall cannabis use is increasing
Cannabis remains the most widely used drug in the world. In 2020, more than 4% of the world’s population aged 15-64 (209 million people) had used cannabis in the past year. The prevalence of cannabis use in the past year increased by 8%, compared to 3.8% in 2010, while the number of people who used cannabis in the past year increased by 23% , up from 170 million in 2010, partly due to the increase in world population.
In the United States, whether in states that have legalized or not, the trend is on the rise, as in Canada or Uruguay.
The report notes that “legalization by itself does not explain the greater increase in cannabis use in states where cannabis has been legalized. In states that have legalized the non-medical use of cannabis, such as Colorado, cannabis use has traditionally been higher than the national average. »
Cannabis use among adolescents has increased in Uruguay, while it has either decreased or remained stable in the various states of the United States and in Canada.
The pandemic has benefited cannabis
No surprise here, the Covid pandemic and the various confinements have increased all drug use, legal and illegal. Cannabis trafficking has also weathered the crisis well and seizures have never been so high in 2020, a sign of increased police activity and possibly increased production.
In 2019 and 2020, the reported growth of indoor cannabis cultivation appears to have once again exceeded the growth of outdoor cultivation globally, with the net number of countries reporting an increase in indoor cultivation three times higher than the number net of countries reporting a decrease in outdoor cultivation.
The cannabis seized is high in THC and low in CBD, confirming a trend of illegal markets in recent years, forced into rapid production and powerful varieties to escape possible arrests as much as possible or reduce production space while preserving similar pure THC production.
The black market retreats in the face of legalization
UNODC recognizes that the various legalizations have effects on the black market.
“Illegal cannabis markets still exist after legalization, but to varying degrees, in the different countries and jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis. In some countries, the size of the illegal market has decreased since the introduction of the new regulations,” the report explains.
Furthermore, “tax revenues from the legalized cannabis market have continued to increase. A variable part of these revenues was invested in the prevention of drug addiction and the treatment of drug use disorders. »