General Article The long and winding road to cannabis legalisation

Topic Selected: Cannabis
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Although some countries  have quasi-legalised cannabis use (The Netherlands), made cannabis available for medical purposes (California, in the US) or allowed the growing of a small number of cannabis plants for personal use (Australia), in most countries – The Netherlands included – cannabis supply, distribution and use is prohibited (Reuter, 2010). Nevertheless, in 2009, between 2.8% and 4.5% of the world population aged 15–64, corresponding to between 125 million and 203 million people had used cannabis at least once in the past year (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2011).

The table opposite presents cannabis use statistics for a number of countries, distinguishing between lifetime use (ever), recent use (last year) and current use (last month). The range in lifetime use is substantial from a low 21% in Sweden to a high 42% in the United States. The range in recent cannabis use is also substantial from a low 1% in Sweden to a high 14% in Italy. Finally, current use range...

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