The 2021 edition of the Health Barometer developed by the French Observatory of Drugs and Addictive Trends (OFDT) sheds light on trends in cannabis consumption in France.
While young adults tend to use less cannabis, annual cannabis use levels have remained broadly stable between 2017 and 2021. but the proportion of people over 35 tends to increase.
High but stable consumption
In 2021, 47.3% of the adult population aged 18 to 64 say they have used cannabis in their lifetime. Cannabis is still the most widespread illicit substance in the population, with 18 million people having used it in their lifetime. However, the share of consumers who have consumed at least once in the year has stabilized since 2017.
Thus, in 2021, 10.6% of adults consumed cannabis during the year, a level comparable to 2017, while consumption over the last 30 days fell very slightly over the last period, from 6.4% at 5.9%. More frequent consumption, whether regular consumption (ten or more times during the month) or daily consumption is also decreasing: it concerns respectively 3.0% and 1.7% of adults, against 3.6% and 2.2% in 2017.
In a separate study conducted in 2021, the OFDT interviewed 2,587 drug users, of whom 2,447 were cannabis users within the year. On average, current consumers declare that they smoke 1.8 joints on a usual day of consumption, a quantity which increases sharply with the frequency of consumption: from 0.8 joints for occasional users – that is to say, not all of them smoke months – at 4.1 joints on average for daily consumers.
An aging of cannabis users
While cannabis use remains statistically higher among those under 35, the average age of current cannabis users has increased since 1992: it has thus risen from 25.1 years to 32.8 years between 1992 and 2021. OFDT explains that this trend is the cumulative consequence of the aging of the generations of adults who declared that they consumed at the end of the 1990s and some of whom continued to consume, and on the other hand a reduction in consumption by people born in the 2000s.
Brittany and Occitania continue to consume more cannabis than other French regions, where Hauts-de-France constitutes the largest gap compared to the national average (-8%). The overseas regions and departments experiment less with cannabis, with very marked differences with the metropolitan average, which range from minus -9 points in Reunion to -25 points in Guyana compared to the national average.
At European level, France still ranks first in the prevalence of consumption in the adult population and among 15-34 year olds. Only the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Italy exceed France, by a few points, in the category “school population (15-16 years)”.
The OFDT survey was administered to 23,661 adults aged 18 to 64 residing in metropolitan France and overseas territories.