Lisbon, Portugal: Americans age 15 to 34 use cannabis in far greater numbers than do their European counterparts, according to statistical data recently released by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
Lifetime prevalence of cannabis use in the United States is greater than in any European Union (EU) nation, including the Netherlands, the report finds, and is nearly twice as high as the EU average. Approximately 51 percent of Americans age 15 to 34 report ever having used cannabis compared to approximately 30 percent of Europeans, the study concluded.
Among those reporting having used cannabis in the past year, approximately 22 percent of Americans said that they had versus only 13 percent of Europeans.
“These statistics belie the myth that US-styled prohibitionist policies discourage cannabis use,” said NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre.
St. Pierre noted that unlike the United States, most EU nations treat cannabis possession as a non-criminal, administrative offense. In recent years, several countries in the EU, including Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, and the United Kingdom have downgraded minor marijuana possession to a non-arrestable offense.
“The European experience provides a strong empirical case that removal of criminal prohibitions on cannabis possession does not significantly increase the prevalence of marijuana use, and likewise, that US-imposed criminal sanctions do little to dissuade pot use among young adults,” St. Pierre said. “US leaders would be well-advised to follow Europe’s example and repeal its war on cannabis consumers in favor of policies of tolerance and regulation.”
For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the EMCDDA’s 2005 Statistical Bulletin is available online at: http://www.emcdda.eu.int/
A summary of European cannabis laws is available online from NORML at: