ARCHIV - 07.05.2022, Berlin: Ein Mann raucht bei der Auftaktkundgebung einer Demonstrationen für eine zügige Legalisierung von Cannabis, dem «Global Marijuana March 2022», am Brandenburger Tor einen Joint mit Medizinalcannabis. (zu dpa: «Psychotherapeuten für Mindestpreis für Alkohol und freies Cannabis») Foto: Christoph Soeder/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

According to a report by the United Nations (UN), the increasing consumption of cannabis is putting additional strain on healthcare facilities. In the European Union (EU), hemp drugs are the cause of around 30 percent of drug therapies, according to the annual report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, which was published on Monday. In Africa and some Latin American countries, most such therapies are related to cannabis addiction.

The increasing potency of hash and marijuana on the market, combined with regular use, has led to a rise in addiction and mental illness in Western Europe, according to the UNODC. In North America, as a result of the legalization of cannabis, consumption is also increasing – especially among young adults. A growing proportion of psychiatric disorders and suicides there are linked to regular cannabis use, the report said. Hospital stays are also increasing. The UNODC acknowledged that the legal sale of these drugs has increased tax revenues and reduced arrests for cannabis possession.

The United Nations drug watchdog also pointed out that by far the greatest harm in North America continues to be from dangerous opioids. One of these heroin-like substances is fentanyl. According to preliminary estimates, around 108,000 people would die from overdoses in the United States in 2021, up 17 percent from the previous year.

The UNODC speaks of another “opioid epidemic” caused by the abuse of the painkiller tramadol in northern and western Africa and in the Middle East. There is also evidence of tramadol drug use in Asia and Europe.

The UN agency is also concerned that other stronger drugs will find new markets. Seizures indicate that cocaine smuggling is spreading beyond the main distribution areas of North America and Europe to Africa and Asia. Methamphetamine, which is also a stimulant, is no longer just a problem in East and Southeast Asia, but also in countries like Afghanistan and Mexico.