Cannabis has probably been consumed in every country in the world, at one time or another. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) stated that the “cannabis herb is grown in almost every country in the world.” How many different countries have you consumed cannabis in, and which country had the best cannabis, in your humble opinion? Leave us a comment on this article and let us know! During your travels, you may have wondered which country in the world consumes the most cannabis overall. I went searching for the answer to this question, and here’s what I found out.
According to the UNDOC, Icelandic residents consume the most cannabis in relation to the percentage of the country’s total people; that means that 18% of the population of Iceland reported cannabis consumption in 2012, which is greater than the United States’ 15.4%, reported in 2013. However, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Jonathan Caulkins, noted that measuring cannabis use over the past year is an ineffective way to demonstrate frequent use, because rare use is so prevalent over that large of a time span. Pew Research Center conducted a US survey in March of 2015 looking at cannabis consumption over shorter time spans. The results stated that 49% of Americans have tried marijuana; 12% have smoked during the previous year, and 7.3% in the previous month. These monthly smokers are much more likely to be regular smokers. Caulkins also noted that, of US cannabis users, about 50% spend more than half of their waking hours high. The best way to measure serious cannabis consumption, though, is by counting the number of days a month people consume cannabis – Caulkins found that of the past month cannabis consumers, 35% said they had used it for 21 or more days out of the month. That is equal to about 2.6% of Americans who use cannabis on a daily basis. Personally, I suspect that the numbers are much higher than that – but not everyone is ready to come out of the cannabis closet.
The percentage of different populations consuming cannabis is also a big question mark – which populations around the world consume the most cannabis today? Stereotypes notwithstanding, Caulkins stated that marijuana is relatively cheap on the drug scale, and that legalization will not change availability; therefore cannabis can be the drug of choice for any socioeconomic class. In 2014, the UNDOC noted that global cannabis use had declined, as did cannabis cultivation, except in the United States. Leaf Science examined the UNDOC data from 2014, and reported the top ten countries by percentage of population use, and this is where all the “Iceland smokes the most pot” media came from. The article reported that the most cannabis is smoked in Iceland, followed by Zambia, the US, Italy, New Zealand, Nigeria, Canada, Spain, Australia, and finally Jamaica. Uruguay’s recent legalization effort to combat criminal use of cannabis may also put it on the map in the near future.
A survey by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that 9.5% of 36,000 people surveyed had smoked marijuana in the past year, and additional findings were that the number of people smoking marijuana has doubled since 2002. Medical marijuana use has increased from 1.5% to 2.9% as well. The results of MarketWatch’s research on the No. 1 cannabis consuming country in the world? The United States comes in at the top of the consumption mountain at 7.6%, tied by Spain. Italy follows at 6.9%, France at 4.8%, and the Netherlands at 3.3%. As far as those who use cannabis on a daily basis, the numbers were 35% in the US, 34% in Spain, 24% in Italy, and 33% in France, and 23% in the Netherlands.