As more and more harmful cannabis laws are improved worldwide, along with that seems to come increased and widespread acceptance of its use.
The 2016 World Drug Report, coming from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), was released at the end of June. This report gives a world overview of the supply and consumption of opiates, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine-type stimulants and other psychoactive substances. The report also details the impact these various drugs seem to have on the health of those who use them and on public safety as a whole.
Taking into account legalization for recreational use in various parts of the world, the report reviewed demand for cannabis. Unsurprisingly, cannabis is still the most widely used illegal drug in the world at this time. An estimated 183 million people have used some form of cannabis in 2014, which seems a bit low. The report indicates that with changing attitudes towards cannabis, use has increased. This is occurring mostly in the Western world, along with an increase of acceptability towards recreational cannabis.
Over the past decade, more people have entered treatment for cannabis use than the decade prior. However, the reason more people have entered treatment for cannabis use is likely due to its continued illegality. In American court cases involving marijuana – the defendant tends to be offered probation and ordered to take some kind of drug treatment or rehab program, whether they were arrested for a joint or a pound. This is slowly changing as more positive research comes out about marijuana. Despite its widespread use, cannabis has fewer withdrawal symptoms than any other illegal drug.
“Heroin continues to be the drug that kills the most people and this resurgence must be addressed urgently,” said UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov.
While crystal meth has seen increased use and drug-related death, opioids continue to cause the most worldwide health problems, deaths and severe addictions. Which is curious, considering how commonly opioids are prescribed for pain relief and other ailments.
The report shows a link between poverty and increased illegal drug use compared to wealthier parts of the world. The majority of worldwide illegal drug use is by people who are poor. Unfortunately, social and economic disadvantages and increased illegal drug use tend to go hand in hand. Higher levels of unemployment and lower levels of education tend to lead to more self-medicating, which tends to lead to increased criminality – and the vicious cycle continues.