UN: Cannabis Consumption Rising Due to Legalization, COVID

A recent UN report noted an uptick in cannabis consumption tied to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as legalization policies around the world.

Full story after the jump.

A new UN report found a rise in cannabis consumption in places that have approved legalization reforms and a similar uptick related to the COVID 19 crisis, Reuters reports. Written by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the study focused on the U.S., Uruguay, and Canada.

“Cannabis legalization appears to have accelerated the upwards trends in reported daily use of the drug,” the Vienna-based UN office wrote.

The report suggests that the pandemic heightened the risk of depression and suicide and warns that alongside cannabis use rates, THC concentrations in cannabis products are also on the rise.

“The proportion of people with psychiatric disorders and suicides associated with regular cannabis use has increased.” — UNODC via Reuters

The report found teenage cannabis use “has not changed much” but there was “a pronounced increase in the reported frequent use of high-potency products among young adults.” Around 284 million people in the report said they used drugs like heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, or MDMA, representing about 5.4% of the world’s population, during 2020; 209 million of those consumed cannabis as well, the study says.

“Periods of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic drove increases in the use of cannabis … in 2020,” the UN report says.

The data also reports that cocaine production is up. Seizure data suggests cocaine use in Africa and Asia is on the rise. The report says opiates remain the world’s deadliest drug with fentanyl driving a U.S. overdose epidemic. In 2020, 107,622 individuals lost their lives to opiates worldwide, the report says.

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