How many people in Germany smoke weed?

The time has come before the end of this year: Cannabis is to be legalized – albeit in small quantities. The legislative plans should be implemented by the end of the year. “The consumption of cannabis is a social reality,” said Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir (Greens) at the joint presentation of the plans with Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD). Ozdemir, who himself got into political difficulties because of a hemp plant a few years agois absolutely correct.

Because illegality has not necessarily kept Germans from consumption so far. According to the latest information from the German Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (DBDD) from 2021, more than a third have already consumed cannabis at least once in their lives – be it as a joint or in another form. According to the DBDD, legal CBD products with a THC content of less than 0.2% are not included in the rating. A look at the data from previous years shows that the trend is increasing.

The drug is also widespread among young people. Overall, according to the information, 9.3 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds in 2021 consumed cannabis at least once in their lives. Cannabis is the most prominent illegal drug in Germany, both among adults and among minors. Of approximately 18.3 million adults who have used an illicit drug at some point in their life, a majority (34.7 percent) resorted to cannabis. In the case of cocaine and crack, ecstasy or amphetamines, the value is in the mid-single-digit range – and thus significantly lower.

Germany in 4th place in the EU

However, the value of the twelve-month prevalence, i.e. the number of people who used cannabis in the past year, is significantly lower. According to the DBDD, it was 8.8 percent for adults in 2021 and 7.6 percent for young people between the ages of twelve and 17.

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EU-wide, Germany is in the top range with these values. Only in three countries have more people tried the drug at least once in their lives: in Denmark and Spain it is a good 38 percent of people. In the front runner France even almost 45 percent.

Hashish is becoming more and more potent

As consumption increases, so do prices – albeit only slightly. Ten years ago, consumers had to pay €9.40 for a gram of herbal cannabis and €8 for resin (the sticky (honey-like) substance used to make legal CBD hash and many other products), by 2021 it was €10 and €8. 9.60 euros. How the price will change after legalization is difficult to predict. Federal Minister of Health Lauterbach himself expects that the black market will “reduce very sharply or even collapse” because the issue of legal cannabis is to be organized through membership in so-called social clubs. Lauterbach said it wasn’t worthwhile for dealers if cannabis was offered at cost price like in a cooperative.

On the other hand, another trend could speak. Since 2006, laboratories that provide data for the DBDD Drugs Report have evaluated marijuana separately for herbal cannabis and inflorescences when examining the purity of illegal drugs. According to the observatory, the reason for this is that “the more active inflorescences without the herb are increasingly appearing on the illegal drug market”.

While the THC content has steadily increased slightly in recent years, the increase in hash is much more pronounced. Before 2011 it was just over 7 percent or less, but in 2019 it rose to a record high of 22.6 percent. In 2021 it was slightly lower again at 20.4 percent.

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It is currently unclear whether the THC content in legally cultivated cannabis should be limited. Further details are to be presented in a draft law. Health Minister Lauterbach had provided for such an upper limit in his original legalization plan. The amount of the intoxicating substance THC in legalized cannabis should therefore have been a maximum of 15 percent. There had already been criticism from the Union at the time. CSU health politician Stephan Pilsinger had told the editorial network Germany (RND) that limit values ​​made legal products too expensive. Young consumers in particular would then prefer to continue buying cannabis “at a cheaper price with more effect” from their “dealer around the corner” than from their local pharmacy.

Cannabis is the second most common reason for addiction treatment

In any case, according to the new draft for THC, there should be a limit if the cannabis is given to young adults under the age of 21. The exact limit has not yet been determined. In addition, they should be allowed to receive a maximum of 30 grams of cannabis per month. The traffic light coalition thus takes into account the fact that, according to the current state of science, consumption at a young age can influence the healthy development of the child’s or adolescent brain. A levy on young people under the age of 18 should therefore remain illegal.

A look at addiction treatment in Germany shows that consumption has not been without problems in recent years. According to the DBDD, 44.1% of people who visit a treatment center “because of a problem with illegal drugs” are cannabis users.

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“After alcohol, cannabis is the most common reason for addiction treatment in Germany,” says the latest drug report. Parallel to the increasing THC content in cannabis products, the demand for addiction counseling and therapy has also increased. In both inpatient and outpatient settings, treatments based on cannabinoids are the largest diagnostic group after treatment of problems with alcohol.

Germany is divided when it comes to weed

And what do the Germans think? They are divided on the legalization of cannabis in this country. A good half approves of the project, slightly more people reject it.

However: a good ten years ago, in 2014, according to an evaluation by infratest dimap, opinions differed even more. At that time, more than two-thirds of Germans rejected legalization, while a good 30 percent were in favor.

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