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Drugnet Europe News from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction — October–December 2007

EMCDDA releases 2007 Annual report

'After over a decade of rising drug use, Europe may now be entering a more stable phase. Not only are there signs that heroin use and drug injecting have become generally less common, but new data suggest that levels of cannabis use may now be stabilising after a sustained period of growth. Nevertheless, positive messages are marred by high levels of drug-related deaths and rising cocaine use'. These were the key points stressed by the EMCDDA as it launched its 2007 Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in Europe on 22 November in Brussels.

Cannabis — signs of popularity waning among the young

The public launch to the media at the European Parliament (EP), followed a presentation the previous day to the EP’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, chaired by Guisto Catania and attended by national parliamentarians from across Europe. Presenting the report were EMCDDA Chairman Marcel Reimen and Director Wolfgang Götz. This edition of Drugnet Europe brings readers the highlights…

Cannabis use stabilising, signs of popularity waning among the young: Nearly a quarter of all adults in the EU (around 70 million aged 15–64) have tried cannabis at some point in their lives, and around 7% (23 million) have used it in the last year. But while cannabis remains Europe’s most commonly consumed illicit drug, and use is historically high, new trend data are a cause for 'cautious optimism' says the report.

Following escalating cannabis use through the 1990s, and more modest rises after 2000, latest data suggest that cannabis use is now stabilising or falling, particularly in high-prevalence countries. And in some Member States there are signs that, among younger age groups, the drug’s popularity may be waning.

According to the report, on average 13% of young Europeans (15–34 years) have used cannabis in the last year. The highest rates are reported by Spain (20%), the Czech Republic (19.3%), France (16.7%), Italy (16.5%) and the UK (16.3%). Among the high-ranking countries, recent trend data show that rates have stabilised or are beginning to decrease in Spain and have dropped by around 3–4 percentage points in the Czech Republic, France and the UK. And latest data from mid-ranking countries show a stabilisation in Denmark and the Netherlands and falling levels in Germany.

Among the UK’s younger cannabis users (16–24 years), last year use fell from 28.2% in 1998 to 21.4% in 2006, suggesting that the drug has become less popular there in this group. And according to the Spanish School Survey, last-year use among 14–18 year-olds fell from 36.6% in 2004 to 29.8% in 2006. While levels of cannabis use still appear to be increasing among young adults (15–34 years) in Hungary, Slovakia and Norway, most rises are small and less pronounced in more recent estimates. The exception is Italy where rates of last-year cannabis use in this group rose from 12.8% in 2003 to 16.5% in 2005.

Only a relatively small proportion of cannabis users report using the drug on a regular and intensive basis, but this still represents 'a significant number of individuals', says the report. Around one-fifth (18%) of the 70 million adults (15–64 years) who have ever tried cannabis, reported having used it in the last month (over 13 million Europeans) and around 1% of European adults (around 3 million people) may be using the drug on a daily, or almost daily, basis. In 2005, over a quarter (29%) of all new treatment demands were cannabis-related.

Drugnet Europe is the EMCDDA's newsletter launched in September 1996. The newsletter provides regular and succint information on the Centre's projects and activities to a broad readership.

Page last updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008