Cannabis Use in Europe

What percentage of Europeans has used cannabis in the past 12 months?

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Map of the cannabis use in Europe.

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Cannabis, or marijuana, is a psychoactive drug from the cannabis plant that is mostly used recreationally or as a medicinal drug. In most countries, the use of cannabis is still illegal. In recent years, more countries have started decriminalizing or even legalizing the use of cannabis.

In Europe, there is only one country where cannabis is legal. That is Malta. Although the use and sale of cannabis has been tolerated under certain conditions in the Netherlands for decades, it’s still not legalized. In most European countries, cannabis is still illegal. In some countries the use and possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use, is decriminalized. In most of those countries, the growth of cannabis or consumption in public is still illegal.

The Netherlands is the only country in Europe where the sale of cannabis is tolerated. Even in Malta, where the recreational use of cannabis is legalized, the sale of cannabis is still illegal. In Malta, cannabis can be grown in Cannabis Social Clubs, who can distribute it among members, up to a maximum of 7g per day and 50g per month.

To put the numbers of this map in to context. It’s good to know where in Europe cannabis use is legal, illegal or decriminalized. That’s why I made another map depicting the legal status of cannabis in Europe.

Map of the legality of cannabis in Europe.

So how popular is cannabis in Europe? There does not seem to be a very strong correlation with the decriminalization of cannabis. France, where the use of cannabis is illegal for both recreational and medical use, has the highest share of people that have used cannabis in Europe (11%). Monaco, Spain (10.5%), Croatia, Italy (10.2%) and the Netherlands (10.1%) are the other European countries where more than 10% of the population used cannabis in the past 12 months. Except Monaco, all of these countries have decriminalized the recreational use of cannabis.

Interestingly, Malta has the lowest share of cannabis users in all of Europe (0.9%). Keep in mind though, that the data for Malta is from 2013 and cannabis has only been legalized since December 2021. Sadly, i haven’t been able to find more recent data for Malta. It would be interesting to see whether legalization would increase the share of cannabis users.

All countries where less than 3% of the population used cannabis in the past 12 months, are countries where cannabis is illegal for recreational use and often times also medical use. Turkey (1.1%), Hungary and Kosovo (1.3%) are right behind Malta in terms of having one of Europe’s lowest shares of cannabis users.

The data for this map comes from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes. Data for the legality of cannabis comes from Wikipedia.


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