1. The Current State of Cannabis in Europe
Cannabis remains the most commonly used illicit drug in Europe, with an estimated 84 million adults having used it at least once in their lifetime. The illicit cannabis retail market, valued at a minimum of €11.4 billion annually, is the largest drug market in the EU. Herbal cannabis, mostly cultivated within the EU, accounts for about 77% of this market. Spain plays a significant role in production, especially in the cultivation of cannabis plants and as the key entry point for cannabis resin from Morocco.
2. Trends in Cannabis Production and Trafficking
The production methods and criminal networks involved in the cannabis trade are evolving. Large-scale cultivation sites have been dismantled in key EU countries, and there are signs of local production expanding. Morocco remains the primary supplier of cannabis resin, but there’s an emerging trend of EU-based resin production using innovative methods.
3. Increasing Potency and Product Diversity
There has been a substantial increase in the potency of cannabis products, with the average potency of herbal cannabis and cannabis resin rising by about 57% and 200%, respectively, from 2011 to 2021. Additionally, a variety of cannabis consumer products, including highly potent oils, edibles, and vaping products, have emerged. Some of these products, especially those containing synthetic cannabinoids, pose significant health risks.
4. Germany’s Legislative Response
Germany’s proposed legislation is a response to these complex and evolving market dynamics. By legalizing cannabis for recreational use, Germany aims to reduce the influence of the illicit market, ensure product safety, and protect public health, particularly among young people.
5. Opportunities and Challenges for the Cannabis Industry
Germany’s legalization opens opportunities for market expansion and innovation. However, it also presents challenges, including navigating regulatory complexities and addressing public health concerns due to the increasing potency and variety of cannabis products.
6. Environmental Impact and Criminal Activities
The environmental impact of illicit cannabis production is considerable, mainly due to energy and water use and chemical pollution. The carbon footprint of indoor cultivation is notably higher than outdoor cultivation. Moreover, the cannabis market has been a source of violence and criminal activities, facilitated by the misuse of legal business structures and corruption.
7. The Importance of Regulation
Regulating the cannabis market in Germany could address these environmental and public health concerns, curtail criminal activities, and provide a controlled and safe environment for cannabis consumption. This approach could also serve as a model for other EU countries, potentially influencing the global policy debate on cannabis regulation and control.
You can find the full drug market report here: https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/eu-drug-markets/cannabis_en