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EU Cannabis Consumption Increased and Ecstasy Use Decreased in 2021

The European Union’s latest survey on cannabis usage revealed that the number of people who consume it has increased and that the amount of people using it has fallen.

Recently, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions found that cannabis and ecstasy experienced the greatest changes in consumer habits. Online, between March 2021 and April 2021, the European Web Survey on Drugs sought to reveal patterns of drug abuse that could be used in regulation. This survey was conducted in both 21 EU countries as well as nine non-EU nations. It collected answers from people who were at least 18 years old and had previously used drugs.

Survey results were published January 20 and showed drug usage breakdowns for 48,469 of those surveyed. “Cannabis was the drug used most, with 93 percent of survey respondents reporting to have used it in the previous 12 months and with little variation between countries,” the survey results state. “MDMA/ecstasy (35 percent), cocaine (35 percent) and amphetamine (28 percent) were the next most reported illicit substances, with the order of the three drugs varying by country. Around a third of respondents (32 percent) reported using more (herbal) cannabis and 42 percent using less MDMA/ecstasy.” The results also show that a group of participants had used LSD (20 percent), a new psychoactive substance (16 percent), ketamine (13 percent) and heroin (three percent).

Furthermore, participants from the Western Balkans (which is made up of a Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo) also echoed the high consumption of cannabis, and decreased use in other substances—especially ecstasy. “Most respondents (91 percent) reported using cannabis in the previous 12 months, followed by cocaine (38 percent), MDMA/ecstasy (22 percent) and amphetamine (20 percent). Again, around a third of respondents (32 percent) reported using more (herbal) cannabis and 34 percent using less MDMA/ecstasy.”

According to the location of these substances, 85 percent and 72 percent respectively of EU participants, as well as the Western Balkans, consumed them at home. The motivation to use cannabis at home is not just because it was convenient, but also for a variety of other reasons. Participants wanted to relax, get high in order to improve sleep, but their use of MDMA or ecstasy was used to attain “euphoric and socialising [sic] effects.”

Although the breakdown of study result shows that only about 50,000 individuals shared their information, this still provides valuable insights into residents’ changing behavior. “While web surveys are not representative of the general population, when carefully conducted and combined with traditional data-collection methods, they can help paint a more detailed, realistic and timely picture of drug use and drug markets in Europe. More than 100 organizations [sic] took part in the initiative, including the Reitox national focal points, universities and NGOs.”

Alexis Goosdeel, Director of EMCDDA shared a statement about the survey’s goal and how many organizations are required to analyze and sort the data. “Web surveys are a key ingredient in our monitoring of Europe’s shifting drugs problem,” Goosdeel said. “They help us reach an important target population through innovative online methods. Today’s results reveal the wide variety of drugs available across Europe and provide valuable information on emerging trends and changing patterns of use during the COVID-19 pandemic. A staggering 100 organizations [sic] joined us this time in building, translating and disseminating the survey, ensuring that this is now an invaluable tool to help tailor our responses and shape future drug policies.”

The U.S. has also conducted studies that shed light onto other issues related to marijuana, including targeting teenagers with advertisements on social media and an updated Gallup study that showed that the majority of Americans are in favor of legalization.