According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction’s 2016 European Drug Report, marijuana is the most widely used illegal substance in Europe, accounting for 38 per cent of the continent’s drug market.
The report also stated that an estimated 7.43 million Europeans, or about 1 per cent use cannabis on a daily basis, while 22.1 million individuals have used it in the past year, and 83.2 million people have used it at one point in their life.
However, you may be wondering which countries are the largest consumers of weed. Here are the top marijuana-smoking countries in Europe, according to the 2016 EMCDDA report:
France is at the top spot, with 40.9 per cent of its adult population having used weed within their lifetime. Interestingly, the country has very restrictive policies regarding cannabis, which means that possession, sale, transportation, and manufacture of weed and weed-related products are illegal in the country. However, authorities rarely prosecute when only small quantities of weed are involved, provided you can prove that you have no links to trafficking or production of the substance.
Denmark ranks second-highest in terms of cannabis use, with 35.6 per cent of its adult population having used the substance. Imagine, that’s more than 1 in every 3 people! Like France, Denmark also has very restrictive marijuana policies in place. However, police authorities are relaxed and their focus is mainly on traffickers, not on users.
Italy is third with 31.9 per cent. It is still illegal to sell, manufacture, and transport the substance, but possession of weed has been decriminalized and personal consumption is widely tolerated.
About 30.4 per cent of Spanish adults have used weed within their lifetime, making Spain top 4 in the list. The country, however, is considered progressive when it comes to their policies on marijuana. Possession and cultivation of marijuana is legal and transportation has been decriminalized. Sale of cannabis, however, is still an illegal activity.
5. United Kingdom
In the UK, 29.2 per cent of adults have reportedly used weed at least once in their life. Cannabis is generally illegal here, but it is classified with very low penalty.
6. Czech Republic
Czech Republic has a 28.7 per cent score. The country has relaxed possession laws, cultivation and transportation have been decriminalized, and sale is allowed for medical purposes.
Ireland has a 25.3 per cent user rate. While weed is generally illegal, the substance has been removed from all other scheduled drugs. The country also implements a three-strike law for offenders.
The Netherlands scored 24.1 per cent. It is also considered progressive when it comes to its cannabis policies. Possession is legal and sale is allowed in coffee shops.
Germany is 9th with 23.1 per cent. Cannabis is generally illegal, but possession is allowed for personal use only up to 15 grams.
A little less than 22.0 per cent of Norwegians use or have used marijuana. The substance is illegal in the country.
These statistics are, of course, not 100 per cent accurate considering that marijuana is still illegal in many European countries. The numbers have been gathered using different methods, and for a lot of people in a lot of these countries, admitting to using weed is the same as admitting to a crime. So the report could very well be an understatement of actual marijuana use.
Moreover, with the report, it is made quite clear how very little legal policies affect the rates of actual cannabis use. France being on top of the list proves that anti-marijuana legislation does not really mean a lesser number of cannabis users.
With more and more European countries now moving towards the legalisation of marijuana use, we could expect to see these numbers and rankings change.