It's always interesting to pore through the World Drug Report issued annually by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. There are five booklets. Booklet No. 3, "Drug Market Trends: Cannabis and Opioids," is 122 pages long (70 are devoted to cannabis). Here are 10 takeaways.
Cannabis Cultivation Is Nearly Universal
"Cannabis is illicitly produced in every region. Cannabis cultivation was reported either through direct indicators (such as cultivation or eradication of plants or eradication of production sites) or indirect indicators (seizure of plants, reports on origin of seized cannabis) by at least 154 countries in the period 2010–2020."
Source Countries for Cannabis
Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Eswatini, Ghana, Zambia
North America: United States of America, Mexico, Canada; South America: Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia; Central America: Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras
Near and Middle East/South-West Asia: Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan; Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan; Transcaucasia: Azerbaijan, Armenia; South Asia: India, Nepal; South-East Asia: Philippines, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand, Indonesia
Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago
Western and Central Europe: the Netherlands, Spain, Czechia, Italy, Switzerland; South-Eastern Europe: Albania, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria; Eastern Europe: the Russian Federation, Ukraine
Australia, New Zealand
Global Prevalence of Cannabis Use Up Modestly, Number of Users Continues to Rise
"Cannabis remains the most widely used drug worldwide. In 2020, more than 4% of the global population aged 15–64 (209 million people) had used cannabis in the past year. The prevalence of past-year cannabis use has increased by 8%, from 3.8% in 2010, while the number of people who used cannabis in the past year increased by 23%, from 170 million in 2010, partly owing to increase in global population."
Americas Report Most Cannabis Herb Seizures, But Lower Interception Rates Lead to Strong Decline in Seizure Figures
"The Americas reported 60% of global cannabis herb seizures in the period 2016–2020. However, the overall share of the Americas for cannabis herb seizures has declined significantly, falling from 84% of the global total in 2010 to 58% in 2020."
Caveats in Assessing the Impact of Cannabis Legalization
"The full effects of legalization on public health, safety and criminal justice will take decades to become apparent. In most jurisdictions, cannabis production and supply chains are being developed and have not yet stabilized. A few years after the legalization of non-medical use of cannabis may not be long enough to provide an adequate indication of the impact of cannabis use on public health as cannabis markets are still developing."
As More People Use Cannabis, the Likelihood of Their Suffering Medical and Health Consequences Also Increases
"A 'simultaneous quadruple confluence' of increasing prevalence of use, increasing intensity of use (in terms of both frequency and quantities), increasing THC content of cannabis products, and increasing hospitalization due to cannabis use and cannabis use disorders all likely interact multiplicatively in the context of studying the impact of legalization."
Evidence on the Increase in Driving Under the Influence and Traffic Fatalities Attributed to Cannabis Remains Inconclusive
"Studies of the effects of the legalization of non-medical use of cannabis on traffic accidents have produced mixed findings, and there is little difference in cannabis- or alcohol-related traffic fatalities between the states that have and those that have not legalized non-medical use of cannabis in the United States."
Arrests for Possession of Cannabis Use Among Adults Had Declined Considerably
"Over the years, in the United States, including in the states that have legalized non-medical use of cannabis, there has been a substantial decline in both the absolute number and rates of people arrested for possession of cannabis for personal use. These trends started long before states began to allow medical or non-medical use of cannabis."
Revenues and Taxes from Cannabis Have Increased
"The legalization of cannabis and the for-profit production of a range of cannabis products have generated revenues for corporations investing in the business and the jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis."
Big Corporations Including from the Alcohol and Tobacco Industries Are Investing in the Cannabis Industry
"The size of the overall cannabis market in the United States is estimated at $30 billion. As further growth potential is projected, there is a growing influence of and investment by large corporations, including the alcohol and tobacco industries, which are investing in the cannabis industry in North America."