Report Clears the Air on European Marijuana Use | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 26.06.2008
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Report Clears the Air on European Marijuana Use

Cannabis is the drug of choice in Europe, with 13 million people lighting up each month. A new report by Europe's drug agency EMCDDA aims to debunk misconceptions that persist about the drug.

Man smokes a marijuana joint

Marijuana is widely smoked across Europe

Twenty percent of European adults have tried cannabis at some point in their lives, according to a mammoth 700-page report by the EU's The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

The report examines Dutch dope-selling in coffee shops, hashish smoking in London during the heady 1960s, and the state of Moroccan marijuana production. The report was released on Thursday, June 26, and coincides with the UN's International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Getting the facts

Woman in an Amsterdam coffee shop

Amsterdam's coffee shops lure in tourists from around the world

The study doesn't push for EU-wide legalization of marijuana, nor does it advocate harsher punishments. Instead, it aims to serve as an authoritative reference work on scientific research, legislation and policy issues associated with the drug in Europe.

"Cannabis is the most-used illicit drug in Europe, but it can also be a major source of division and debate among politicians, scientists, police, professionals and citizens," said EMCDDA director Wolfgang Goetz.

"As a result the public faces a daily flow of information on cannabis, some of it well-founded, but some of it militant and at times misleading."

Titled "A cannabis reader: global issues and local experiences," the report is designed as a "guide to inform research, debate and policymaking on the substance."

Morocco a major supplier

Police officer with marijuana and gun

Enforcement levels differ across the EU

The first volume takes the reader through the history of cannabis, how various governments have changed their approach to the drug, including how coffee shops developed in the Netherlands.

Most European cannabis comes from Morocco, which supplies 80 percent of all resin seized in Europe. The report also looks at emerging supply lines from countries such as Thailand, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia.

Not that all marijuana is being imported. In Britain, home-grown marijuana accounts for 50 percent of the market, according to the report.

The report also points out the differences between legislation in European countries. Portugal decriminalized cannabis use in 2000 and Luxembourg punishes possession with a fine. Meanwhile both Denmark and Italy have toughened laws.

The second volume of the report looks at health issues related to cannabis. It looks at patterns of European cannabis use and demand for treatment.

Marijuana plants

Half of the UK's marijuana is home grown

It also examines the cost of cannabis, which gets more expensive as one heads north. Cannabis sells for 1.40 euros ($2.20) per gram in Spain while costing on average 21.50 euros per gram in Norway.

The report also claims to debunk the belief that modern-day cannabis is much stronger now than in the past. The report said that is an "urban myth" based on flawed data.

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