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UN Report Dramatizes Uptick in Global Cannabis Use

A UN report on cannabis has been released. It will, no doubt, look just as alarmist in the future as it does now. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has published its annual global drug report.

Here are the high level takeaways—which are hard to read with a straight face.

  1. Regular cannabis use is likely to rise if marijuana legalization becomes law. No kidding. There is a good chance that someone will purchase more cannabis if they can legally buy it, rather than being criminalized by black market transactions. That said, even the UNODC had to admit that the prevalence of cannabis use among teenagers “has not changed much.” In fact, legalization (in Canada and the U.S.) not to mention the semi-legit markets in places like Holland, have not suddenly seen an uptick in use by underage individuals.
  2. Not surprisingly, increased use was also caused by the Pandemic. A world-wide shock of unprecedented proportions has occurred just a few days ago. The use of medication that reduces anxiety, alleviates mental stress, and treats many other illnesses might be increasing.
  3. Cannabis is “getting stronger” with regards to THC content.It is an issue. There are certainly some cannabis strains that have higher levels of THC in today’s commoditized markets than the outdoor guerrilla skunk grown by hippies in the past. You can also find widely-used strains with lower THC levels. Another spectre of prohibition has long since passed.
  4. Record breaking numbers were achieved for cocaine production as also U.S.-based opioid death rates.While this may be true in some cases, it does not have anything to do with legalizing or using cannabis. Alarming is the UNODC association. In medical circles, cannabis is becoming more and more often seen as a gateway drug to other, even more dangerous substances. These aren’t the gateways to cannabis.
  5. “The proportion of people with psychiatric disorders and suicides associated with regular cannabis use has increased.” Don’t let this kind of anti-cannabis propaganda scare you, even if it is emanating from the UN. It is impossible to link regular cannabis consumption with mental illness or suicide. Cannabis use significantly reduces stressors leading to self-destructive behaviors for people with both psychiatric and physical disorders like depression or PTSD.

The most recent study to examine such issues, emanating from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) last year had to concede that they could not “establish that cannabis use caused the increased suicidality we observed in this study,” and that “these associations warrant further research.” The same study also noted that cannabis use by adults more than doubled in the United States between 2008 and 2019—precisely the years that normalization became a multi-state campaign politically.

Also, it is worth noting, that one recent study about cannabis and PTSD that included episodes of depression that lead to suicide found that cannabis significantly decreased PTSD symptoms until many patients did no longer meet the criteria to diagnose the condition.

Perhaps veterans are the most vulnerable population to suicide even during the best times. National estimates show that 22 veterans commit suicide each day in the United States. The suicide rate of deployed veterans who served in Afghanistan or Iraq was 41% greater than that of the general population. Surprisingly, suicide rates for non-deployed vets were 61% higher than those of the general population.

It is also worth noting that economic and other conditions since 2008 have actually worsened for many people—from the overhang of the global recession to a flat recovery.

COVID-19 was just the icing on an already overburdened cupcake.

It seems very rational, legal, and increasingly acceptable to consider cannabis as an option for treating some symptoms.

Global Scare Tactics and Propaganda

Although it’s not surprising UNODC would publish this report, even after UNMD moved marijuana to a more dangerous drug category, and despite the fact that some U.S. data was apparently parroting, it is an interesting development. This same distortion and misapplied associations are what has kept prohibition in place for so long.

Using a drug’s legalization combined with a disastrously disconnecting event like a global Pandemic to make unfounded associations about cannabis use is disingenuous to say the least.

To appear to parrot a U.S. national study which reached similar conclusions while being equally light on the data and association front is just another sign that the UN is still overwhelmingly influenced by U.S. policymakers—and anti-reform ones at that—who will stop at nothing to try and halt the green tide of change.