EMCDDA report on cannabis production in Europe


The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction has released a new report: Cannabis production and markets in Europe.

It is ambitious in its scope, setting out to cover the many topics and interrelated issues to do with cannabis production and importation in Europe.

The main distinction made by the report is that non-European countries are still exporting their cannabis resin into the continent, with Morocco providing the most, while the growth of cannabis herb has been on the increase in Europe itself for many decades.

One of the main factors owing to the increase in cannabis production in Europe is due to the Netherlands’ history with the drug. In the 1970s and 1980s, there were no legal restrictions on experimentation on developing stronger strains of cannabis, and producing seeds in order to grow cannabis was perfectly legal. This stimulated the growth of indoor cultivation, and through various policy changes following this the use and sale of small amounts of cannabis was essentially decriminalised. After these growers started selling cannabis with high levels of THC, interest in foreign products diminished, leading to 80% of the domestic demand for the drug to be fulfilled by locally grown sources.

The report is full of these detailed expositions on how cannabis has become as popular as it is today: how social movements concerned with drugs, starting in the 1960s, now carry more weight and respectability after becoming more “vocal, articulate and proper”; how the Internet, through the largely anonymous transfer of information has spread knowledge, allowing small time growers of cannabis to get started; and how ‘import substitution’, or growing cannabis domestically, has risen in the UK in response to law enforcement on the country’s borders.

It is worth mentioning the refreshing delivery of this report. It does not represent the dry and heavy-handed documents that usually come out of government organisations. Included is an historical overview of man’s relationship with cannabis, from its harvesting for textiles and paper in Ancient China right up to its booming popularity as a recreational drug. The “interesting plant” is examined through the guise of a botanist, with explanations of the variations between different species and strains. Finally, there is talk on cannabis’ origins, which are speculated to go back to central Asia.     

This all contributes to the creation of a rich, detailed document, giving the reader a better understanding of the historical and cultural context in which our approach to cannabis currently resides.