Science

What impact will the legalization of cannabis have?

The UN report on drugs is alarming, but it’s too early to condemn legalization. There are good reasons for this.

Research is still needed

Annette Welsh

The UN report on drugs is alarming, but it’s too early to condemn legalization. There are good reasons for this.

“The legalization of cannabis in some parts of the world appears to have accelerated daily cannabis use and associated health outcomes,” a UN drug report at the end of June said rather cautiously.

ARCHIVE - 04/10/2014, Brandenburg, Braunsdorf: Illegal Hanf-Plantage, entdeckt bei einer Drogenrazzia auf einem privaten Gelände in Braunsdorf. Die voraussichtliche Ampel-Koalition will be eine

Socialist mayor Philip Close sees this as a way to focus police crackdowns on the hard drug trade.

Overall, the report paints a picture of increasing use, especially among young people, of increasingly stronger and more synthetic drugs, and a growing burden of addictions on healthcare systems. Thus, 30% of addiction treatment in the European Union (EU) can be attributed to the consumption of hemp products.

From this, the world opinion was born very quickly in public opinion, according to which legalization will lead to an increase in cannabis consumption. CSV MP Nancy Kemp-Arendt also referred to the UN report and wanted to ask Minister of Health Paulette Lehnert (LSAP) what the government is drawing from it in the context of the desired legalization of cannabis.

UN recommendations

More specifically on cannabis, the report itself recommends continuing to measure the impact of cannabis legalization, in particular on public health, the rule of law, public safety, and the illicit parallel market, in order to better understand the social and economic costs associated with it.

You should also invest in research into the effects of cannabis use, in particular the health effects of consuming foods high in THC. There is also a need to combat misconceptions about the risks of cannabis through the dissemination of evidence-based prevention messages. Public health and safety should also be a priority when commercial stakeholders lobby to expand the legal cannabis market.

Gesundheitsministerin Paulette Lenert (LSAP) hat noch in keiner einzigen brennenden Gesundheitsfrage eine eigene Meinung verlauten lassen oder sich - wie bei der Impfpflicht - so vage geäußert, dass ihre Position nicht erkennbar ist.

The Minister of Health of Luxembourg visited Portugal to learn more about the country’s policies regarding the consumption and decriminalization of soft drugs.

With evidence that drug use is responsible for 5% of all deaths from addictive substances, while tobacco causes 17 times more deaths and alcohol five times more, the report highlights the need for detention: lessons to be learned extracted from both the tobacco, alcohol and ultra-processed food and pharmaceutical industries, as well as documented cases where commercial interests target vulnerable groups, putting them in competition with public health concerns.

Ministry of Health defends its policy

Refraining from legalization is not part of the recommendations. And the response from the Ministry of Health is also clear: the government wants to regulate existing non-medical cannabis use, mainly because it wants to know if the health of people in contact can be better protected. with hemp.

“The UN report on drugs indicates that the legalization of cannabis may have accelerated its use among young people, while the prevalence of use among young people would have remained fairly stable. However, the same report emphasizes that it will take decades to reliably assess the real impact of the new cannabis regulations,” writes Paulette Lehnert.

There was already a trend in many states in North America to increase cannabis use before various legalizations. The report shows that in many US states that have not legalized, consumption has also increased over the same period. The authors make the same observation for many EU countries.

Another important element of the report is that it confirms a trend towards an increase in THC levels in cannabis products in parallel with an increase in the number of treatment requests or hospitalizations due to cannabis. “This has been observed in the EU and also in Luxembourg for many years.” Lehnert points out that in the EU, 30% of addiction treatment cases involve the use of cannabis products, so in countries where cannabis is not legalized.

Partydrogen comments in Vilen Formen. Am bekanntesten dürften Ecstasy-Pillen sein. Deren Zusammensetzung und MDMA-Ghalt sind für Konsumenten jedes Maleine Unbekannte.

In 2020, Luxembourgish consumers voluntarily analyzed 83 drug samples. The results generally show a high level of purity, but suspicious substances have also been found.

Now the dangers of potentially dangerous diluents and even more dangerous synthetic cannabinoids on the illegal market have been added. “We quickly realize that the current uncontrolled illegal market, in which more and more diverse and dangerous products circulate, presents incalculable risks for the consumer, who has less and less opportunity to know what he buys and what he consumes.

In this sense, it is important to follow the trends and new scientific knowledge described in international and national drug reports. But also to make fact-based legal adaptations that take them into account to counter the growing profit-maximizing illegal cannabis market without considering the growing risks to the consumer.

UN Drug Report 2022

Cannabis remains the most widely used drug in the world. An estimated 209 million people, or 4% of the world’s population, used cannabis in 2020. Over the past decade, the number of people using cannabis has increased by 26%. It is in North America that consumption remains the highest, with 16.6% of the population using the drug. In Africa, cannabis continues to lead the list of patients in need of drug treatment.

The proportion of women among people who use cannabis ranges from 9% in Asia to 42% in North America. Cannabis cultivation also increased in 2020, with cannabis resin seizures reaching record highs. Meanwhile, the carbon footprint of cannabis cultivation indoors is 16 to 100 times higher than that of outdoor cultivation, mainly due to higher energy consumption.

Periods of self-isolation during the pandemic have led to an increase in cannabis use both in terms of quantity and frequency. Cannabis accounts for a significant proportion of drug-related harm worldwide, due in part to its high prevalence. More than 40% of countries report that cannabis is the drug of most drug use disorder, and 33% consider it the drug of greatest concern.

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On the same subject

Although it will now be possible to grow and smoke marijuana at home, driving under the influence of mind-altering substances is still illegal. Thus, “regular” checks will be carried out to ensure safety on the roads of the Grand Duchy.

This drug was seized in Metz and Ettange Grande in Moselle, near the border with Luxembourg. Five people were arrested, three of them were taken into custody.

Due to a complex cross-border network that needs to be dismantled, drug seizures by the police have dropped significantly in 2020.

The government council approved this Friday a bill that should allow adults to grow no more than four cannabis plants in the private sector.

National Drug Report 2021

Between cocaine, MDMA and marijuana: studies show the use and habits of illicit substance users before and during the pandemic.

Alcohol and hemp are sold in Luxembourg.

At a time when the government is talking about allowing cannabis cultivation, statistics point to the involvement of drug addicts in some traffic accidents.

Germany, France and Belgium are already fearful of the possible consequences of legalizing the plant for medicinal purposes in their border regions.

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