This year’s World Drug Report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 183 million people worldwide used cannabis in 2015.
Cannabis is the world’s most widely consumed drug, according to estimates in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) new 2017 World Drug Report. The report found that an estimated 3.8 percent of the adult population, or 183 million people, used cannabis in 2015.
The UNODC report, published annually for now 20 years, also found zero reported fatal cannabis overdoses.
According to the report, cannabis use has steadily increased over the past decade within North American countries. Cannabis use in the Americas, for example, was found to have increased from 37.6 million people in 2005 to 49.2 million people in 2015. This rise in cannabis use was found to be most significant in the United States, which between 2007 and 2015 saw an overall 43 percent increase in the number of past-year adult cannabis users, and a 54 percent jump in the number of past month users. The major increase in past-month cannabis users was found to be most prevalent among those aged 26 years and older.
The report attributes the increase in cannabis use among adults in the U.S. to shifts in the public’s perception of the risks associated with use, as well as an increase in state measures allowing cannabis to be used legally. Measures legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis have progressively spread throughout the U.S., particularly in the last few years. In 2016 alone, voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada approved measures to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes, and voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota supported measures to allow medical cannabis.
As of now, eight U.S. states have legalized the recreational use of cannabis and 29 have permitted its use for medical purposes, despite that the substance remains federally classified as Schedule I. Voters in three states – Oklahoma, Missouri and Utah – may vote on medical cannabis initiatives in 2018. According to the UNODC report, as of March 2016, the U.S. had around 1.2 million people registered for medical cannabis.
Worldwide, there were an estimated 190,900 drug-related deaths in 2015, according to the report, with North America accounting for more than 25 percent. None of these deaths were associated with cannabis. Deaths were driven by opioid-related overdoses, which were found to have more than tripled between 1999 and 2015 and increased by 11.4 percent in the last year alone. Of the 52,000 total drug-related deaths in the U.S. in 2015, those related to opioids accounted for more than 60 percent.
According to the UNODC, between 2010 and 2015 the cultivation of cannabis was reported on the territory of 135 countries, covering 92 percent of the world population. Morocco and Afghanistan were found to be the two highest producers of cannabis.