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4% of Global Population Consumes Cannabis, the World’s Most Widely Used Drug

4% of Global Population Consumes Cannabis, the World’s Most Widely Used Drug

The latest Global Drug Report says the number of cannabis consumers has increased by 21% over the past decade and there are an estimated 219 million regular users across the planet.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

23/12/12, 07:00

Cannabis remains by far the world’s most commonly used drug. That's according to the latest World Drug Report.


An estimated 219 million people used cannabis in 2021, representing 4 per cent of the global adult population  The number of people who use cannabis has increased by 21 per cent over the past decade.


Cannabis use remains the highest in North America, where 17.4 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 64 used the drug in 2021.


Cannabis remains the main drug of concern for the majority of people in treatment in Africa. 


The percentage of women among those who use cannabis varies across regions and subregions, from 9 per cent in Asia to 42 per cent in North America (2021).


Qualitative assessments suggest that cannabis cultivation continued to increase in 2021, although at a lower rate than in 2020.


Seizures of cannabis resin dropped in 2021 after a record high in 2020 but remained the second highest level ever reported. Seizures of cannabis herb declined in 2021, after a substantial increase in 2020, which followed a downward trend over the previous decade driven by large decreases in seizures in North America.


Periods of lockdown during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic drove increases in the use of cannabis, both in terms of the amount used and frequency of use.


Cannabis accounts for a substantial share of drug-related harm globally, owing in part to its high prevalence of use: an estimated 41 per cent of drug use disorder cases globally are cannabis use disorders (2019). In 2021, around 46 per cent of countries reported cannabis as the drug associated with the greatest number of drug use disorders and 34 per cent of countries reported it as the main drug of concern for people in drug treatment.


There is evidence of the effectiveness of cannabinoids in treating a few conditions but for many other conditions the evidence is limited. Many countries have made provisions for the medical use of cannabis but the regulatory approaches to medical cannabis differ widely among those countries.


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