4th Dec 2023

Heavy cannabis use among European teenagers

  • The number of new users of Heroin has fallen since the 1990s (Photo:

Cannabis remains the most commonly used drug in the EU with roughly one in five adult Europeans having tried it at least once in their lifetime.

The 2004 Annual report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) published on Thursday (25 November) in Brussels also shows that cannabis use has now stabilized in Europe – although at historically high levels.

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Around 15 percent of 15–16-year-old school students in the EU who have used cannabis in the last year are described as ‘heavy’ cannabis users – using a definition of 40 or more times per year.

Young male students are more than twice as likely to be ‘heavy users’ as girls, said the report.

Ecstasy - Europe’s No 2 drug

Ecstasy may be catching up or overtaking amphetamines as Europe’s No 2 drug after cannabis.

Europe remains one of the world’s most important areas for the production of ecstasy, with Belgium and the Netherlands remaining the most significant producing areas.

Quantities of ecstasy seized rose in most EU countries in 2002.

Heroin use is now relatively stable in many EU countries and the number of new users has fallen since the 1990s, while cocaine use has risen to some extent among young people in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the UK.

Overall less than 1 per cent of the European adult population (15–64 years) can be defined as problem drug users, with around 1.2 and 2.1 million problem drug users in the enlarged EU.

Data show a rise in problem drug use since the 1990s in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Finland, the UK and Norway – and indicators in Estonia suggest ‘strong increases’, according to the report.

There were also some positive recordings in the report. Drug-related deaths fell from 8,838 in 2000 to 8,306 in 2001 representing a small but significant 6 percent decrease.

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Luxembourg will be the first European country to legally regulate the production, sale and consumption of cannabis (the Netherlands has a policy of de facto regulation of sale and consumption only), with all the implications this holds.


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The German coalition government promised in 2021 to fully legalise cannabis, making it the first country in Europe, and the third in the world to do so. How is that going, and what are the likely knock-on effects for Europe?


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