Cannabis News Week: World Consumed More Weed During the Pandemic

The annual UNODC World Drug Report has a bunch of nuggets about cannabis consumption, including the fact that there are 209 million global cannabis users.

Cannabis is still the most used drug in the world, and the covid lockdowns only helped the drug become more popular. 

Legalization in the U.S. has also accelerated adoption and use of the drug, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2022 World Drug Report, the group’s first annual report in what it calls a “post-pandemic world.”

“UNODC research has shown that perceptions of cannabis harms have decreased in areas where the drug has been legalized,” Ghada Waly, the UNODC executive director said. 

But at the same time, the firm says that about 40% of countries reported cannabis as the drug related to the greatest number of drug use disorders. 

“However, as cannabis is the most prevalent substance in most countries, it can cause a relatively high number of drug use disorders and related treatment requests, even though it has a relatively lower potential to create dependency,” the report said. 

Overall there were 209 million cannabis users in 2020, but less than a third of the people who used cannabis were women. Women represented 42% of smokers in North America and 34% of smokers in West and Central Europe. 

While opioid use remained largely stable during the pandemic, global cannabis and amphetamine use jumped since 2020. Trends for cocaine and ecstasy reversed, going lower since the pandemic, according to the report. 

While people are consuming more cannabis, none of the countries reporting data showed an increase in the number of new persons using drugs, which the report attributes to the fact that there was a a reduction in face-to-face social interaction.

Arkansas Cannabis Legalization Progress

Cannabis advocates in Arkansas submitted more than 192,000 petition signatures and ballot titles to the secretary of state, surpassing the signature threshold by more than 100,000 signatures. 

The signatures are the most important step to-date in the state’s path towards legalization, the Arkansas Times reported

The Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment would legalize recreational marijuana for people 21 and older, but would not allow for the personal cultivation of the plant. 

Recreational marijuana would be regulated in the state the way medical marijuana already is after voters approved it with 53% voting in favor of a statewide referendum in 2016. 

Next, the state’s Board of Election Commissioners has 30 days to determine whether or not to certify the amendment for the ballot. 

Daniel Shults, director of the state board, has told the Times that he expects the body to make a decision when it meets in the first week of August.

Mysterious Death in U.K., Cannabis Related?

A 40-year old man was found dead in West Yorkshire, Britain and authorities in the U.K. are saying that a “rogue batch” of drugs could be responsible for the death. 

Two other men were found with the deceased and taken to the hospital. They have been listed as “seriously ill,” according to Metro UK

“We are in the process of establishing what has happened here and cannot rule out that this tragic death and the illness suffered by these males were connected to a possible rogue batch of illegal drugs,” an investigator said. “This may include so-called cannabis edible drugs.”

Earlier this year in London, a 23-year-old was hospitalized with a 21 year-old friend after becoming sick immediately after eating gummies. The 23-year-old died on April 2.

A man was arrested and charged with possession with intent to supply Class B synthetic cannabinoid, but was not charged in the girl’s death. It is unclear if these illnesses are directly tied to the cannabis edibles that were consumed. 

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