The latest figures released by the European Union’s Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reveal that some 90.2 million adults across the continent have used cannabis at least once in their lifetime, which amounts to 27.2 percent of the European population[i]. Take a closer look at the stats, though, and you’ll notice that certain countries have a much higher affinity for marijuana than others, with France and Spain leading the way as Europe’s top cannabis consumers.
According to a report compiled by Statistica, 11 percent of the adult populations of both France and Spain used cannabis last year, placing the two nations neck-and-neck at the top of the list[ii]. In third place is Italy, where 10.2 percent of adults consumed weed in 2019, while 9.6 percent of Dutch residents also used bud at some point last year.
At the other end of the scale, just 0.9 percent of people in Malta accessed cannabis in 2019, making this the European country with the lowest rate of use.
How Often Are People Using Cannabis?
These figures match those compiled by Spain’s ministry of health in 2017, which found that 11 percent of people aged 15 to 65 had used marijuana in the past year, while 9.1 percent consumed cannabis in the past month and 2.1 percent were daily users[iii].
Based on this data, the Spanish health authorities estimated that a total of 647,000 people use cannabis every day in the Iberian nation, whether for recreational or medicinal purposes.
In France, meanwhile, the vast majority of daily users are aged between 18 and 25, with a considerable 4.8 percent of people in this age range ingesting the plant in one form or another on a daily basis[iv].
Use Is Increasing Across Europe
The data shows an unambiguously upward trend in cannabis use across the continent, particularly among younger people. In France, for instance, just 6 percent of 18 to 25-year-olds used cannabis in 1992, yet this figure had risen to 18 percent by 2017[v]. In 2018, 21.8 percent of French adults between the ages of 15 and 34 used cannabis, according the EU’s figures.
In Spain, meanwhile, 18.3 percent of adults under the age of 35 consumed marijuana in 2017, up from 17.1 percent in 2015. This trend is reflected across Europe, with the number of young German adults who use cannabis rising from 13.3 percent to 16.9 percent between 2015 and 2018. Similar increases were seen in Finland, Belgium and the UK, where the proportion of under-35s who consume marijuana stood at 15.5 percent, 13.6 percent and 13.4 percent respectively in 2018.
Older Adults Are Using More Cannabis Too
While the EU’s latest report focuses heavily on the emerging trends among young cannabis users, statistics from elsewhere show that the introduction of medical marijuana has encouraged many older people to initiate or increase their use of the plant. A new study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, for example, surveyed senior patients at a health clinic in San Diego, California, revealing that many are now using marijuana to treat a range of ailments.
Perhaps the most striking finding to emerge from the study is that 61 percent of participants who used medical cannabis said that they only tried it for the first time when they were over the age of 60[vi].
While many European countries still lag behind certain US states in terms of medical cannabis laws, the results of this study provide pretty clear evidence that older adults are just as willing as youngsters to give marijuana a try. And with countries like France and others within the EU now planning to start offering medical cannabis, future trends could well show a huge surge in use among senior citizens.