The United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime recently released its annual global report — it had plenty to say about every kind of cannabis market, illicit or regulated. But ultimately, it calls for more stringent scientific standards for medical cannabis and a “wait and see” approach to decriminalization in the United States and Uruguay.
The annual UNODC World Drug Report offers a statistical snapshot of the global drug market: According to the most recent one, an estimated quarter of a billion people — around 5 percent of the global adult population — used drugs at least once in 2015, and about one in 10 of those folks suffered adverse effects from that use.
Cannabis is the most widely used drug on the planet —about 183 million people used cannabis globally in 2015 and roughly 7,317 tons of pot were seized around the world that same year. People even use cannabis in prison: 16 percent of respondents reported using drugs in the past month, with cannabis being “by far” the most common substance reported.
So naturally the report had plenty to say about the results.
The main theme around cannabis in the report is that the international community needs to take more time to observe the emerging legal cannabis markets and their impact on society:
“It would be beneficial to the countries concerned, and to the international community in general, if jurisdictions and countries adopting new regulations were to establish systems to regularly monitor their impact across all areas of public health and criminal justice.”
UNDOC also reported on the increased cannabis use in North America since 2008 and observed that increases in cannabis use across the United States are “disproportionately associated with adults with a low socioeconomic status who are regular and heavy users of cannabis.”
One of the key findings in the section covering criminal markets is the role technological advances in communication have played in creating “relatively low-risk drug markets.”
From the report:
“The mobile communications revolution has offered new opportunities to traffickers. They no longer need personal contact with clients; instead, low-level ‘runners’ can collect cash and dealers can let the customer know where to collect their drugs using messages sent over encrypted networks.”
Cannabis markets are mentioned as some of the most flexible. Though loose networks exist in all drug markets, cannabis networks are generally more nimble and their members can communicate more rapidly, making them highly effective in delivering goods and harder to track down.
In regards to Europe, North Africa is still home to the main hash exporter in the world — Morocco — and The Netherlands and Spain known the most for production scale and quality among that list.
The intersection of drugs and terrorism is always a major talking point in the post 9/11 world but the report didn’t have too much to say on the subject when it comes to cannabis.
“Some evidence suggests that Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates primarily in North and West Africa, has been involved in cannabis and cocaine trafficking,” the report said, but added the group’s overall income from drugs appears to have been rather modest
When it comes to medical cannabis, they know there are benefits to cannabinoids but particularly when it comes to buds with unknown content and dosage can be detrimental to health.
“To protect human health… the principles of safety, quality and efficacy and the rigorous scientific testing and regulatory systems that apply to established medicines [must] be applied also to cannabis-based medicines.”
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