22.2 million Europeans consumed cannabis in past year, report says

An estimated 22.2 million adults in the European Union, or 7.7% of the population, consumed cannabis in the past year, according to a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), which compiled research from dozens of surveys.

The consumption happened in year previous to when the respective surveys occurred.

The report analyzed national surveys for the 27 EU countries, and most of the surveys took place in the past few years.

The figure provides estimates for the:

  • Number of potential cannabis consumers if those markets inside the EU were to regulate all cannabis consumption.
  • Continent’s total addressable market – an often misunderstood data point in the cannabis industry.

Sales are addressable for legal businesses only if they are legally accessible in regulated conditions. That means almost none of the 22.2 million adult consumers would be considered addressable.

Most countries in the European Union allow the medical use of cannabis or cannabinoids in some form, but the report notes that the nations’ approaches vary considerably.

European markets generally regulate unapproved medical cannabis so strictly that the vast majority of sales still occur in the underground market.

The report notes that some EU-member states are slowly developing recreational cannabis regulations.

Some examples are:

  • Malta legislated cannabis home growing and private use, as well as not-for-profit communal growing clubs in December 2021.
  • Luxembourg has also allowed home growing.
  • Germany and non-EU-member Switzerland are planning to or discussing setting up adult-use marijuana regulatory systems.
  • The Netherlands is launching a pilot to grow and sell recreational cannabis.

“Additionally, shops selling low-THC cannabis products, including foods, cosmetics and herbal smoking materials, now exist in many EU Member States,” the report notes.

In 2020, the European Court of Justice ruled that plant-derived CBD was not a “drug” because it does not have psychoactive properties.

“The implications of this are unclear,” according to the report, “but it could potentially be interpreted, provided regulatory conditions are met, that CBD may be used as an ingredient in some commercial products.”

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More data points from the report include:

  • Roughly 735,000 cannabis possession and supply offenses were reported by legal authorities in 2020.
  • 9 million Europeans 15-24 years old used illicit cannabis in the past year and 4.9 million in the past month.
  • In 2021, 13 of the 31 cities with comparable data reported an annual increase in cannabis traces in wastewater samples.
  • The retail price of illicit cannabis flower ranged from 9 euros ($9.46) to 13 euros ($13.66) per gram. Wholesale prices ranged from 2,100 euros to 5,400 euros per kilogram.
  • For frequency of use for those who consumed in the past month, the mean use was 5.3 days per week. Among those, 46% consumed daily.