November 27, 2001
Marijuana Remains European Illicit Drug of Choice, Report Says
Despite Relaxed Laws, Pot's Popularity in EU Still Lower Than in US
Lisbon, Portugal: Pot is far and away the most popular illicit drug among Europeans, with as many as one-quarter of adults in many member states admitting having tried the drug, according to a report published last week by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
"In all [fifteen] European Union [EU] countries, cannabis is the illegal substance most commonly used, both in terms of lifetime experience and recent use," the study concludes. "Use of other illegal substances is less common."
Lifetime use of the drug ranged from about ten percent of adults in countries with the lowest percentage of users (Finland and Sweden) to approximately 25 percent in France, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Pot smoking was most prevalent in Denmark, with more than 30 percent of adults having used it. Past year use of cannabis was highest in England and Ireland, as nearly 20 percent of adults admit having recently smoked pot.
Though marijuana's popularity in Europe has risen over the past decade, authors did not believe that legislative changes relaxing marijuana penalties were a significant factor in the increase. Presently, only a handful of EU nations criminally sanction marijuana possession, and a growing number - most notably Italy, Portugal and Spain - have abandoned criminal penalties for the possession of all drugs.
"Differences in the prevalence of drug use are influenced by a variety of factors in each country," authors wrote, "as countries with more liberal drug policies (such as the Netherlands) and those with a more restrictive approach (such as Sweden) have not very different prevalence rates."
Ironically, a far smaller percentage of EU adults have tried marijuana than their American counterparts, despite Europe's more liberal pot policies. According to the US government's most recent National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, more than 34 percent of Americans ages 12 and older have tried marijuana - a figure almost double the European average.
Text of the full report, entitled "Sixth Annual Report on the State of the Drugs Problem in the European Union" is available online at: http://annualreport.emcdda.org/.
For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500.
Australian Premiere Says Western Government to Adopt Marijuana Decriminalization
Perth, Australia: The government of Western Australia today announced plans to enact legislation decriminalizing the possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use.
"The government accepts the view ... that small-time [marijuana] users should not carry the stigma of a criminal conviction," Premiere Geoff Gallop (Labor Party) said. He explained that under the new law, to be implemented next year, "possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use will ... attract a fine but offenders will not receive a criminal record."
In the interim, Gallop said that the government would adopt a statewide, non-criminal "cautioning" system for marijuana offenders found in possession of up to 25 grams of pot or two plants. Such a system had previously been in place only in Western Australia's metropolitan areas.
In recent years, virtually all eight Australian states have adopted some version of decriminalization for minor marijuana offenses.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Publications Director, at (202) 483-5500.
NORML Radio Show Back on the Air
Washington, DC: The NORML Foundation's weekly radio show, the National NORMLcast, returns to the air tonight on WTAN AM 1340 in Tampa. The half-hour talk show will air weekly at its new time - Tuesday evenings from 10:05 PM to 10:35 PM Eastern Standard Time - and can be heard locally on WTAN in Tampa and worldwide on the Web at: http://www.norml.org or http://www.tantalk1340.com.
The National NORMLcast is hosted by Tampa radio personality Glenn Klein and features NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre. Listeners can participate live on the show by calling toll-free at: 1-800-263-8559.
For more information on the National NORMLcast, please visit: http://www.norml.org. For the latest information on Texas NORML's forthcoming radio show, "Club Cannabis," please visit: http://www.salon.com/ent/feature/2001/11/26/norml/index.html.
Nationwide Protest Scheduled to Challenge DEA's Hemp Foods Ban
Washington, DC: A nationwide coalition of activists will converge Tuesday, December 4th, in more than 53 cities in 17 states to protest recent federal regulations criminalizing hemp food products. Activists will be setting up tables at local DEA offices and serving various edible hemp products to show their opposition to the new ban and educate law enforcement on the nutritional value of hemp.
In October, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued regulations prohibiting the possession and manufacture of any edible hemp seed or oil products - including snack bars, veggie burgers and salad oils - that test positive for trace levels of THC.
For a complete listing of next Tuesday's scheduled protests, please visit: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n000/a225.html. For more information on edible hemp products and the law, please visit: http://www.votehemp.com.
- End -