News World New report highlights greater diversity of cannabis products, increasing potency

New report highlights greater diversity of cannabis products, increasing potency

Cannabis products have become increasingly diverse in Europe and close monitoring of their potency and potential health effects is essential.

These are among the conclusions of a new report published today by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA)ahead of International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking tomorrow.

The report — Developments in the European cannabis market — provides an overview of emerging and established cannabis products in Europe.

Today’s report identifies a range of factors behind the current diversity of cannabis products, including policy developments, advances in production and extraction techniques and changing consumer preferences. The creation of legal recreational cannabis markets outside the EU is also noted as driving innovation in the development of new cannabis products, some of which are now appearing on the European market.

EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeelsays: ‘The dynamic nature of the current cannabis market and the diversification of cannabis products available bring considerable challenges. New and more potent cannabis products may have serious public health consequences for users. Therefore, monitoring and understanding new trends in cannabis products available to European consumers today is important to inform the policy and regulatory debate.’

Cannabis remains the most widely used illicit drug in Europe. Some 17.5 million young Europeans (15–34 years) are estimated to have used cannabis in the last year (EU-28).

Around 1% of adults (15–64 years) in the EU are estimated to be daily, or almost daily, cannabis users.

In 2017, some 155,000 people entered drug treatment in Europe for problems related to this drug, of those around 83,000 were entering treatment for the first time.

Cannabis is now the substance most often named by new entrants to specialist drug treatment services as their main reason for contact.

Cannabis contains many different chemicals, the best known being Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — largely responsible for the intoxicating effects of cannabis — and cannabidiol (CBD).

What are the new products on the European cannabis market?

  • Concentrates: These are made by extracting THC from the cannabis plant, often using heat and pressure or volatile solvents or gases. Advances in extraction techniques are yielding high potencies (70%–80% THC). Consuming concentrates can result in high THC exposure and potentially pose a greater risk of psychosis and dependence.
  • Edibles: This is an umbrella term referring to foods (often sweets or liquids) containing THC and/or CBD. Adding cannabis products to foodstuffs results in slower onset and longer duration of effects than when smoking cannabis (thus dosing becomes important).
  • Synthetic cannabinoids: These man-made chemical substances mimic the effects of cannabis but may be far more potent. Some of these are sold as ‘licit’ replacements for cannabis, however, some are now controlled internationally and/or under national legislation. The first synthetic cannabinoid detected in Europe (JWH-018) was detected in 2008 in products branded as ‘Spice’ . Since then, more than 180 synthetic cannabinoids have been reported to the EMCDDA.
  • Cannabis-based medicinal and health-orientated products: These include products manufactured to pharmaceutical standards for medicinal use and others with varied composition and descriptions. The report provides a brief overview of approved cannabis-based medicinal products (an EMCDDA in-depth analysis is also available)

Latest developments with established cannabis products

Along with the emerging products on the European cannabis market, there are also challenges arising with the more established forms of the drug.

In broad terms, there are two main types of herbal cannabion European markets: ‘sinsemilla’ or indoor-grown herbal cannabis produced within the EU, and imported herbal cannabis.

In addition to herbal cannabis, plant material is also used to producecannabis resin. Morocco is the largest producer of resin available on the European drug market.

Data provided by the EU Member States show that the THC concentration of cannabis products found in Europe over the last decade has increased, raising concerns about potential harms. The estimated mean potency of herbal cannabisdoubled from 5% to 10% THC from 2006 to 2016, and cannabis resin potency increased from 8% to 17% THC.

Monitoring tools to capture cannabis market diversification

The report underlines the need to develop monitoring tools to capture information on these products and their health effects, at national and European level (particularly on cannabis concentrates).

From a harm reduction perspective, it will also be advisable to monitor the concentration of CBD in cannabis products.

Finally, having the ability to distinguish illicit cannabis products from cannabis-based medicinal products and unregulated CBD oils will be important for law enforcement in many jurisdictions.

Cannabis, controversies and challenges

Today’s report is one of a number of EMCDDA publications and services exploring some of the complex issues in the cannabis policy field. These include analyses of the medical use of cannabis, cannabis and driving and an online alert service on the status and recent developments in cannabis policy .

Top Stories

‘We’re confident’ – Russia to share legal risks of COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik-V

Russia is so confident in its COVID-19 vaccine that it will shoulder some of the legal liability should anything go wrong, rather than requiring...

East Med Gas Forum members sign statute establishing this regional forum

East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) members signed on Tuesday, during a ceremony held online, the statute establishing this regional intergovernmental forum. The founding members of...

Seven dogs stolen from their cages in Famagusta area

Famagusta police are investigating the theft of seven dogs which were in individual cages at a fenced small plot of land in the district. The...

Eight new coronavirus cases in Nea Salamina Club making a total of 19 – they violated quarantine

The Ministry of Health was informed this morning by a private laboratory that carried out tests on footballers and members of the Nea Salamina...

Homeless man repeatedly jailed for begging

A 47-year-old man in Limassol is repeatedly sent to prison so as to get 'reformed' from trying to make a living by begging in...


Pastelli (Carob Toffee)

The nutritional sweet of Pastelli is made with the syrup of carob pods, produced by boiling their pulp until it forms a thick, sticky...

Meatballs with tomato and cumin

Place all meatball ingredients in a bowl and knead well with hands. Keep the mixture in the fridge for approximately 1 hour to thicken. In...

Crushed wheat pilaf with sausages and halloumi

Ingredients: 1 cup bulgar wheat ¼ of the cup vermicelli noodles or spaghetti, broken into small pieces 1 onion 2 sausages 1 cup tomato juice 1 vegetable stock cube 1/3 ts...

Chicken with okra and bulgur wheat

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the okra until golden. Remove the okra, lay out in an oven tray and sprinkle with...