Marijuana Use Statistics Around the World (2019)

Medically Reviewed

It’s no secret that marijuana has become more socially accepted in our society. While alcohol remains one of  the most widely used (legal) drugs in the world, marijuana use has grown exponentially. 

According to the online news source DW, global marijuana use has risen 60 percent in the past decade. Marijuana is the most-used recreational drug around the world. While it’s strictly forbidden in some countries, the United States and Canada have embraced the substance for its potential tax revenue. 

According to a 2019 World Drug Report, nearly 200 million people smoke marijuana around the world. It may be difficult to determine if this is good or bad because of the miniscule evidence we have for the long-term effects of pot use. 

In the United States, there has been an inconsistent approach to regulation. While some states will charge someone with possession, others boast of its legality. This is evident on the Kansas and Colorado border, where pot smokers can be arrested and charged with hefty fines and jail time if they bring the substance into Kansas. 

It’s easy to point at the United States for its inconsistent regulations, but other countries in the world face the same challenges. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Europe has the highest global concentration of teenage marijuana users

The European Union has a similar approach to the United States. In the Netherlands, for example, you can sit in a coffee shop and consume marijuana, but in Hungary, you can face jail time. To be clear, marijuana is not legal in the Netherlands, but rather, it is decriminalized. 

Does the Global Community Have a Problem with Marijuana?

Dr. Thomas Pietschmann, a UN drug researcher who dedicated his life to studying drugs such as fentanyl and heroin, mentions that he is not concerned about people age 18 and over who occasionally smoke a joint. He says we don’t have evidence of people dying from pot, but he cautions not to believe the extreme claims that surround marijuana. 

Pietschmann doesn’t exactly advocate for the drug, but he mentions that people have said crime would decline when marijuana is legalized, which hasn’t happened. The same people said marijuana use would decrease, which also hasn’t happened. 

A lit joint in a person's hand

The main issue with the substance is that too many people are smoking it. It has the potential to keep a person from thinking mathematically or abstractly, lose motivation, and sometimes cause accidents.

For a small minority, it can create mental health disorders, such as psychotic episodes. Contrary to popular belief, marijuana can cause severe issues. 

The biggest issue that the researcher finds with marijuana is young people smoking it, which can be attributed to easier access because of legality in some places.

Marijuana usage in teens can adversely affect one’s development, IQ, and cause a lack of motivation.

The report mentioned above shows that youth marijuana use has also increased moderately.

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