Discussing negative effects of cannabis distribution in Europe

Met dank overgenomen van Lets voorzitterschap Europese Unie 1e helft 2015 (Lets voorzitterschap), gepubliceerd op vrijdag 17 april 2015.

On 16 April the Meeting of the National Drug Coordinators of EU Member States took place in Riga, during which the latest tendencies and actions taken by the Member States to reduce the drug addiction in the EU were discussed. Experts raised the issue of how to restrict the distribution of cannabis in Europe.

At the opening of the meeting the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior Ms Evika Siliņa pointed to negative tendencies in cannabis distribution, stressing that “this meeting in general was devoted to the cannabis issue, which is the most commonly consumed narcotic drug not only in Europe but also globally, therefore it is necessary to find the most applicable solutions to limit the distribution, consuming and addiction caused by use of cannabis.ˮ

The latest data (2012) on the situation in Europe shows that 73.6 million or 21.7% of Europeans have used cannabis or hashish at least once in a lifetime and this drug is the most commonly used narcotic drug in Europe. According to estimates within a year Europeans consume about 2 000 tonnes of this drug. Whereas information on results of drug withdrawals show that in 2012 a total of 105 tons of cannabis and 457 tons of hashish were withdrawn throughout the European Union.

Ms Evika Siliņa also pointed out that there is a common tendency in Europe that more and more often patients report cannabis as a principal reason for entering treatment from drug addiction for the first time. Organised crime members are very much involved in the cultivation and distribution of cannabis.

The representative of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions Mr Danilo Ballotta indicated that the distribution of cannabis in Europe is a complex problem, which has been influenced by high demand of this narcotic drug and by a legal system in each EU Member State. Mr Danilo Ballotta also pointed out the common negative tendency in Europe that the drug use is becoming increasingly common among young people. He also stressed that each Member State decides on measures for restriction the distribution and use of cannabis according to the situation in the relevant Member State.

National Drugs Coordinator Ms Agnese-Zīle Veisberga concludes that the activity of the meeting participants demonstrates the importance of restriction of cannabis use and distribution in Europe and that this problem exists in all EU Member States. At the end of the meeting the participants concluded that some groups of the civil society in Europe demand the liberalization of restrictive drug policy, ignoring the negative tendencies in cannabis use and distribution. Therefore it is very important to establish a constructive and educational dialogue within different groups of society.

The meeting of the EU National Drug Coordinators is organised by every Presidency of the Council of the EU in accordance with the EU Action Plan on Drugs. Conclusions drawn during the meeting will serve as a basis for forming the views of EU Member States and the common position of EU institutions.