Interpol is analyzing the illicit cannabis market.

Interpol is analyzing the illicit cannabis market.

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The illegal cannabis trade is the largest drug market in Europe. Products are becoming more potent and the range is increasing. Major collaborations within organized crime bring new security risks. This is what emerges from an analysis published by Europol and the EMCDDA.

According to the report, the cannabis market is worth 11.4 billion euros. Europe’s largest drug market. The latest estimates show that around 22.6 million adults in the EU (aged 15-64) have used cannabis.

Cannabis smuggling

Much of the intercepted cannabis appears to have been cultivated in the EU. Products also reach the EU via North America. As far as cannabis resin is concerned, Morocco remains the largest supplier. The latest data show that the potency of the products has increased significantly. The average potency of leaves in the EU increased by around 2011 % between 2021-57, while the average potency of resin increased by almost 200 % during the same period, leading to additional health concerns for users.

Synthetics

Although herbs and resin continue to dominate the market, cannabis products in Europe are becoming increasingly diverse and include a range of natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic cannabinoids available in many different forms. Consumers see these in concentrates, vaporizers and edibles. The trade in Europe involves a wide range of networks. This makes this a very dangerous market. Subversion is common and smuggling methods are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

Impact on the environment

The “booming” trade also has significant effects on the environment. Indoor cultivation involves high water and energy consumption. Much of the electricity used to grow cannabis indoors in the EU is stolen. The carbon footprint is estimated to be between 2 and 16 times that of outdoor cultivation.

EU policy

There is no clear policy on cannabis. In Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Malta and the Czech Republic want to regulate the supply of cannabis for recreational use or have already done so to a greater or lesser extent. Switzerland also initiated trials of legal cannabis sales in early 2023. These changes highlight the need to invest in monitoring and evaluation to fully understand its impact on public health and safety. The findings are based on data and information from the EMCDDA drug monitoring system and Europol’s operational information on serious and organized crime.

Source: europol.europa.eu (EN)



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