The European Cannabis Report™: Edition 4, published by Prohibition Partners, is the most extensive review to date of the European cannabis industry. It examines legislation, regulation, market size and market opportunities in 33 European countries, analysing myriad data points.
Home to more than 740 million people, a population more than double that of the United States and Canada combined, Europe is set to become the world’s largest legal cannabis market over the next five years. In the last 12 months alone, the European cannabis industry has grown more than in the last six years. Six countries have announced new legislation and over €500million has been invested in European cannabis businesses and as our exclusive research shows, Europe’s cannabis market is estimated to be worth up to €123 billion by 2028.
The European Cannabis Report™ 4th Edition examines:
Commercial and business opportunities in 33 European markets
Changing legislation and new regulatory guidelines across the region
Emerging trends, market forecasts and industry insights
Founded in 2017, Prohibition Partners specialise in explaining the latest legislative developments and key trends in the cannabis industry aiming to help understand the cannabis industry and its increasingly segmented sectors through authoritative research and unique strategic advice on licensing, regulatory and business opportunities. Their reports provide the most in-depth coverage of the international cannabis industry.
The Drug Policy Alliance released a new report making the case for rethinking the way the United States responds to the “drug dealer.” Beyond being merely ineffective, the harsh criminalization of supply-side drug market activity may actually make drug use more dangerous, increasing overdose deaths and leading to more violence in communities.
Drug prohibition and the criminalization of people who sell or distribute drugs does not reduce the harms of drug use or improve public safety. Our current approach is built on a foundation of stigma, ignorance and fear rather than evidence and creates new problems while doing nothing to solve those that already exist. Such approach to drug sales has failed. We should address drug-involvement, including most sales, outside of the failed apparatus of criminalization. We should also reduce the harms of drug distribution and repair the harm of the criminal legal system’s discriminatory response to the drug trade.
The Drug Policy Alliance believes it is time to rethink the “drug dealer.” We must urgently assess what type of people actually fall into this category and how we as a society can respond to them in ways that will keep people and communities safer and healthier. This work has been motivated by the leadership of formerly incarcerated people and drug users unions.
Politicians of all stripes have argued that long sentences for drug sellers will reduce drug availability and make remaining drugs more expensive, driving down demand. But this is not how drug markets actually work. Research and history have shown that the vilification and criminalization of people who sell drugs does not reduce problematic drug use, reduce the availability of drugs, or keep people who use drugs safer.
With this report, the Drug Policy Alliance aims to expand the current public dialogue around drug reform, to focus on who the people now labelled “drug dealers” really are and how we, as a society, can respond to them in ways that will keep people and communities safer and healthier.
DPA has provided a set of tailored recommendations based on three broad principles:
First, to the maximum extent possible, society should deal with drug involvement outside the destructive apparatus of criminalization – and to the extent that the criminal justice system continues to focus on drug selling and distribution, it must do so with a commitment to proportionality and due process.
Second, we should focus on reducing the harms of drug distribution (for example, reducing drug market-related violence), rather than attempting to eliminate drug market activity.
Third, we must take seriously the criminal justice system’s discriminatory response to the drug trade and work toward reforms that both repair the harm already done while preventing further harm to communities of colour and poor communities.
The Beckley Foundation published a policy proposal which examines the acute, sub-acute, and chronic harms related to MDMA use in detail. The report examines the production, distribution, purchase and consumption of the drug; related risks and harms; and the impact prohibition has on these, as well as the potential impact of alternative policies. Crucially, their evidence shows that most harms associated with MDMA use arise from its unregulated status as an illegal drug and that any risks inherent to MDMA could be more effectively mitigated within a legally regulated market.
Authors claim that there is growing evidence to support reorienting drug policy away from an ideologically driven criminal justice-led model to one rooted in pragmatic health and harm reduction principles. Current policy is not meeting its goal of reducing harms, and greater control of MDMA production, distribution, purchase and consumption is needed in order to prevent MDMA-related emergencies.
This policy proposal rests on the following five principles which should underpin all evidence-informed drug policy and practice:
Promoting public health and reducing harm
Safeguarding vulnerable populations, including children and young people
Supporting human rights
Promoting social justice
Supporting participatory democracy
Roadmaps to Regulation: MDMA has two overarching interlinked objectives:
To highlight that the harms associated with MDMA use are predominantly related to its prohibition;
To propose an alternative regulatory model that would reduce the harms associated with criminalising MDMA use and minimise the risks associated with its use more generally.
The report outlines, for the first time, detailed recommendations for drug policy reform in order to better control the production, distribution, purchase, and consumption of MDMA products. Reform, and the ensuing reduction in MDMA-related harms, will not happen overnight. The changes outlined, which culminate in a strictly-regulated, legal market for MDMA, would need to be phased in gradually and closely monitored throughout, in order to ensure that health and social outcomes are properly evaluated.
More about the report is available it the video below
Harm Reduction International, a leading NGO dedicated to reducing the negative health, social and legal impacts of drug use and drug policy, just published their annual The Global State of Harm Reduction biennial report. First published in 2008, it involves a coordinated effort across practitioners, academics, advocates and activists to map global data and responses to drug-related harms. The data presented here has been gathered over the course of 2019 from publicly available sources and in cooperation with our partners around the world.
It is the only report to provide an independent analysis of the state of harm reduction in the world and has become the go-to source on global harm reduction developments for researchers and advocates in our sector and beyond.
The Report indicated that:
Since 2018, the total number of countries implementing needle and syringe programmes (NSP) has increased by just one, from 86 to 87.
The re-introduction of NSPs in Bulgaria and the first NSP opening in Sierra Leone have been countered by the closure of services in Uganda.
No new countries have begun implementing opioid substitution therapy (OST) programmes since 2018.
We extracted the data on the situation in countries of South East Europe:
Drug trafficking is a highly profitable commercial activity and remains a core business for organised crime groups across Europe today. Understanding the reality of the European drug market requires a holistic approach, following the supply chain from production and trafficking to distribution and sales.
Taking such an approach, two EU agencies – the EMCDDA and Europol – have joined forces to provide their third state-of-the-art overview of the European illicit drug market in the form of the EU Drug Markets Report 2019.
The analysis presented in this report spans numerous topics such as the links between drugs and other crimes, the licit economy and society more generally as well as the processes and players involved in the trade, from production and trafficking to distribution. Taking an evidence-based approach, the report reviews the markets for heroin, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA and new psychoactive substances. It also provides action points to inform policy development at EU and national level. This publication is an essential reference for law enforcement professionals, policymakers, the academic community and indeed for anyone seeking up-to-date information and analysis on drug markets in Europe.
The latest data show that overall drug availability within Europe remains ‘very high’ and that consumers have access to a wide variety of high-purity and high-potency products at steady, or falling, prices. An important cross-cutting theme in the report is the environmental impact of drug production, including deforestation and the dumping of chemical waste, which can result in ecological damage, safety risks and high clean-up costs.
The report highlights the increasing importance of Europe, both as a target and drug-producing region, and shows how the violence and corruption, long seen in traditional drug-producing countries, are now increasingly evident within the EU. Among the wide-ranging consequences of the drug market presented in the analysis are its negative impacts on society (e.g. gang violence, drug-related homicide) and the strain on public institutions and governance. The drug market’s links to wider criminal activity (e.g. human trafficking, terrorism) are also explored, along with its negative repercussions on the legal economy (e.g. how money laundering associated with the drug trade undermines legitimate businesses).
The European Men-Who-Have-Sex-With-Men Internet Survey EMIS-2017 collected comparable data from 127.792 participants – men who have sex with men from 48 countries in Europe. It provides insights on their knowledge of HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections (STI), sexual behaviour, prevention needs and testing habits.
EMIS-2017 was executed by Sigma Research (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) as part of European Surveys and Training to Improve MSM Community Health (ESTICOM). It was a three-year project (2016-2019) funded by the European Commission Health Programme 2014-2020 through a tender by the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea).
The results show considerable differences across the countries reflecting Europe’s diversity with respect to sexual health and behaviour of MSM. The report describes both MSM behaviour and needs, alongside resulting morbidities, and the likely value of current services to address these.
The Executive Summary indicates that sex between men remains the predominant mode of HIV transmission in the EU/EEA countries, where the first signs of a decline in reported new cases resulted from a 20% drop in new diagnoses among MSM (2015-2017). Responses to a survey that focused on knowledge about HIV and sexually transmitted infections, sexual behaviour, access to care, HIV-related stigma and the use of services for HIV and sexual health is a strong indication that this group cares about HIV and sexual health issues. For example, every second (56%) respondent had received an HIV test result in the last 12 months and almost half (46%) had tested for other STI during the same period.
On the occasion of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 26 June, the Global Commission on Drug Policy launched a report “Classification of Psychoactive Substances: When Science was Left Behind“. This GCDP ninth report analyses the history, procedures and inconsistencies of the current classification of psychoactive substances.
In the report, the Global Commission on Drug Policy explains how the biased historical classification of psychoactive substances has contributed to the “world drug problem”. It is the first-ever comprehensive report providing a political reading of the current evaluation and classification, or “scheduling” of drugs according to their harms. “The current distinction between legal and illegal substances is not unequivocally based on pharmacological research but in large part on historical and cultural precedents. It is also distorted by and feeds into morally charged perceptions about a presumed “good and evil” distinction between legal and illegal drugs.”
Psychoactive substances should be classified with regard to their potential for dependence and other harms. This is not the case today, where some substances are legally available because they are considered beneficial (medicines) or culturally important (alcohol), while others are seen as destructive, and are strictly prohibited. The classification of drugs is at the core of the international drug control system. As such, governments must ensure that such a classification is pragmatic and based on science and evidence, makes clear the benefits and harms of drugs, and allows for responsible legal regulatory models to control drugs.
Ruth Dreiffus, chair of the organization and a former president of Switzerland, wrote in the foreword: “…this classification or ‘scheduling’ of drugs is the cornerstone of the current repressive approach to drug policy, which has resulted in the ‘collateral damage’ of the ‘war on drugs—tragic consequences that the Global Commission on Drug Policy has condemned since its founding in 2011. The effects of prohibition—in terms of public health and security, discrimination and prison overcrowding, the rise in power of criminal organizations and the associated violence and corruption, as well as the lack of access to essential medicines—highlight the urgent need to change course and implement policies that are more effective and more respectful of human rights.”
On the occasion of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) presented the 2019 World Drug Report.
The World Drug Report 2019 is again presented in five separate parts that divide the wealth of information and analysis contained in the report into individual reader-friendly booklets in which drugs are grouped by their psychopharmacological effect for the first time in the report’s history.
Booklet 1 provides a summary of the four subsequent booklets by reviewing their key findings and highlighting policy implications based on their conclusions. Booklet 2 contains a global overview of the latest estimates of and trends in the supply, use and health consequences of drugs. Booklet 3 looks at recent trends in the market for depressants (including opioids, sedatives, tranquillizers and hypnotics), while Booklet 4 deals with recent trends in the market for stimulants (including cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants and new psychoactive substances). Booklet 5 contains a review of recent trends in the market for cannabis and for hallucinogens. The section on cannabis also includes a review of the latest developments in the jurisdictions that have adopted measures allowing the non-medical use of cannabis.
As in previous years, the World Drug Report 2019 is aimed at improving the understanding of the world drug problem and contributing towards fostering greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health, governance and security.
In 2017, an estimated 271 million people, or 5,5 per cent of the global population aged 15-64, had used drugs in the previous year. Globally, some 35 million people are estimated to suffer from drug use disorders and who require treatment services (only one in 7 people who need support gets it). The Report also estimates the number of opioid users at 53 million, up 56 per cent from previous estimates, and that opioids are responsible for two thirds of the 585,000 people who died as a result of drug use in 2017. 11 million people injected drugs in 2017, of whom 1.4 million live with HIV and 5.6 million with hepatitis C.
“The findings of this year’s World Drug Report fill in and further complicate the global picture of drug challenges, underscoring the need for broader international cooperation to advance balanced and integrated health and criminal justice responses to supply and demand,” said Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director.
Commenting the Report, Science for Democracy’s Coordinator Marco Perduca emphasized that “The theme of this year’s international day was “health for justice and justice for health”, though the disastrous impacts on the health of who is prosecuted, if not persecuted, for drug-related crimes is not acknowledged in the report. Much more is still invested in the securitarian and penitentiary aspect rather than the socio-sanitary one. All of this despite the increase in consumption and in particular problematic consumption. And yet, the Report ends with a recommendation about the necessity of providing help to those in need (only one in 7 people who need support gets it).”
New York based organisation Filter notes in their article that “the report failed to significantly evaluate widespread drug-associated human rights abuses—inherent to prohibition and accelerated by the ascendancy of far-right leaders“. There, Heather Haase, chair of the New York NGO Committee on Drugs, commented that “One thing that stood out in the report was, there was no section on human rights. That’s a huge issue in drug policy.”
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) issued today their regular annual European Drug Report. The Report provides a comprehensive analysis of recent drug use and market trends across the European Union (EU), Norway and Turkey.
The 2019 report highlights in particular an increase in cocaine availability with seizures at a record high, amounting to 140.4 tonnes, double the quantity seized in 2016 (70.9 tonnes). Although the retail price of cocaine remained stable, its purity at street level reached its highest level in a decade in 2017.
The report notes the “Uberization” of the cocaine trade, where users and dealers use smartphones, messaging apps and satellite navigation to obtain the drug. Enterprising criminals have set up “cocaine call centres” across Europe to provide fast and flexible delivery services.
Heroin is still the most common illicit opioid on the drug market in Europe and is a major contributor to drug-related health and social costs. The quantity of heroin seized in the EU increased by over a tonne in 2017 to 5.4 tonnes, with an additional 17.4 tonnes seized by Turkey (some of which would have been destined for the EU market). Laboratories producing heroin from morphine using this precursor have been discovered in recent years in EU countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Spain and the Netherlands). Heroin purity remains high and the retail price relatively low.
Belgium has overtaken Spain as the hub of the fast-growing European drug market. Belgium is playing an enlarged role in both the distribution and production markets of cocaine, methamphetamines and other illicit drugs, such as ketamine and GBL. The report also shows that Belgium, together with the Netherlands, is one of the main production centres for MDMA.
The Report also explores the challenges associated with new synthetic opioids, the latest developments in the cannabis market and synthetic drug production in Europe. Production of synthetic drugs appears to be ‘growing, diversifying an The purity of methamphetamine and amphetamine is higher than a decade ago, with 0.7 tonnes of methamphetamine and 6.4 tonnes of amphetamine seized in the EU in 2017. d becoming more innovative’ with methamphetamine posing the “greatest challenge”.
Legal recreational cannabis markets in some countries outside the EU were leading to “innovative” new products that presented difficulties for detection and control when entering the continent. The report points to fentanyl as a problem drug in Estonia, buprenorphine in Finland and the Czech Republic and methadone in Germany and Denmark. 11 new synthetic opioids were detected in 2018, including six new fentanyl derivatives. Since 2009, there have been 34 fentanyl derivatives detected in Europe, the EU agency says.
One in five people entering drug treatment facilities for an opioid-related problem “now reports a synthetic opioid, rather than heroin, as their main problem drug; and these drugs are becoming more commonly detected in drug overdose cases”. Around 8.200 people died of an overdose in Europe in 2018, according to the Report, around 300 more than in 2017. Most of the overdoses were not due to cocaine or other drugs, but rather opioids (heroin-induced), which made up 78% of all deaths. Researchers say the number of deaths could be 20% to 30% higher due to potential underreporting by member states. The spread of HIV has decreased by 40% over the past decade.
Providing people who inject heroin, or other drugs, with greater access to prevention, testing and treatment for HBV and HCV is central to combating viral hepatitis as a public health threat in line with the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as they are the people with the highest burden of disease and at highest risk of transmission.
Mobile health applications are increasingly used in prevention, treatment and harm reduction.
Rather than focusing on illicit markets, flows of commodities or particular criminal groups, this report looks at places of interest: hotspots of organized crime in the Western Balkans. It looks at the characteristics of these hotspots, then provides a granular analysis of particular border crossings, intersections or regions of vulnerability. What makes these places particularly vulnerable? Why are they attractive to criminals? After discussing these questions, the report connects the dots between these locations to identify possible links and patterns that tell us more about the geography of crime in the region.
To contextualize these organized-crime hotspots, the report provides an overview of the current situation in the Western Balkans, as well as some general information on the main illicit flows. It then looks at hotspots close to border or (internal) boundary crossings.
The other main section of the report focuses on major intersections of organized crime in the Western Balkans – mostly bigger cities (particularly capitals), coastal towns and places where major highways intersect. Maps are provided to show the hotspots as well as key traffic arteries. Amid these assessments, the report takes a deeper dive into vulnerable locations, such as Sarajevo, three ports along the Montenegrin coast, northern Kosovo as well as the triangular region where North Macedonia meets south Serbia and Kosovo.
One key observation of this report, which is important to highlight upfront, is that illicit flows through ports, cities and border crossings in the Western Balkans are enabled by a political economy of crime that is deeply entrenched in most countries of the region. The report therefore takes a look at the ecosystem of crime that creates an environment in which illicit activity can flourish. It concludes with a prognosis of potential future hotspots of crime.