Cannabis use in European adults increases by 27% – research

A study on international cannabis consumption published in The Lancet also found that one in five users reported high-risk use patterns

Cannabis use, high-risk cannabis use, and treatment rates have increased across Europe, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

“Public health monitoring of cannabis use in Europe: prevalence of use, cannabis potency, and treatment rates” looked at data on four key cannabis indicators – prevalence of use, prevalence of cannabis use disorder, treatment rates, and potency of cannabis products – in Europe, using information from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, and the Global Burden of Disease study. It found that each had increased.

Between 2010 and 2019, past-month prevalence of cannabis use increased by 27% in European adults (from 3·1 to 3·9%), with most pronounced relative increases observed among 35–64-year-olds, the study observed.

In 13 out of 26 countries surveyed, one in five users reported high-risk use. The rate of treatment entry for cannabis problems per 100,000 adults also increased from 27·0 (95% CI: 17·2 to 36·8) to 35·1 (95% CI: 23·6 to 46·7) and has mostly plateaued since 2015.

Modest increases in potency were found in herbal cannabis (from 6·9% to 10·6% THC) while median THC values tripled in cannabis resin (from 7·6% to 24·1% THC). In light of the finding, the authors called for greater regulation of international cannabis. “In the past decade, cannabis use, treatment rates and potency levels have increased in Europe highlighting major concerns about the public health impact of cannabis use,” reads the conclusion on the study.

“Continued monitoring and efforts to improve data quality and reporting, including indicators of high-risk use and cannabis-attributable harm, will be necessary to evaluate the health impact of international changes in cannabis regulation.”

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