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Cannabis Market Trends and the Rise of 'Psychedelic Renaissance'

The latest United Nations (UN) report on global drug trends suggests that marijuana legalization in the U.S. and Canada has significantly reduced illicit cannabis markets. The 2024 World Drug Report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also notes a substantial decrease in cannabis-related arrests. Additionally, the report highlights the emergence of a “psychedelic renaissance.

The report reveals that in some regions:

  • The illegal cannabis market is shrinking.

  • Cannabis-related arrests in the U.S. are decreasing.

  • Racial disparities in marijuana arrests persist.

  • The rise of new marijuana products like vapes and high-THC edibles raises concerns about youth usage.

Cannabis Market Trends and the Rise of 'Psychedelic Renaissance'
Cannabis Market Trends and the Rise of 'Psychedelic Renaissance'

Youth Marijuana Use in Colorado Declines Post-Legalization

In Colorado, youth marijuana use continues to decline despite fears that legalization would increase underage consumption.

  • The 2023 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey shows a drop to 12.8% of high schoolers using cannabis in the past 30 days, down from 13.3% in 2021.

  • Since legalizing cannabis in 2014, youth use has steadily decreased.

  • Studies consistently show that regulated sales and ID checks reduce youth access.

Global Trends in Cannabis Legalization

As of early 2024, several UN member states, including Canada, Uruguay, and 27 U.S. jurisdictions, have legalized cannabis for non-medical use. European countries offer various degrees of regulated access. The UNODC report aims to foster international cooperation to address health, governance, and security issues related to global drug markets.

While the report primarily focuses on other drugs like opioids and methamphetamine, it notes a renewed interest in psychedelics for treating mental health disorders. Early research has led to policy changes allowing quasi-therapeutic use of psychedelics in some U.S. jurisdictions, Australia, and Canada.

Cannabis Use and Its Impact

The UNODC identifies cannabis as the most commonly used drug globally, with 228 million users in 2022. In North America, 19.8% of people aged 15-64 used cannabis. The report also highlights medical cannabis's effectiveness in treating specific conditions but notes varied regulatory approaches among countries.

The report expresses concern over new drug delivery methods affecting youth, including increased cannabis vaping. Hospitalizations for cannabis-induced psychosis and withdrawal have risen, especially among young adults. Prioritizing prevention programs for young people is crucial due to the ongoing brain development during adolescence.

Addressing Global Drug Treatment Gaps

The report also addresses the widening gap between individuals with substance use disorders and those receiving treatment.

  • Only 1 in 11 people with drug use disorders received treatment globally in 2022, a decrease from 2015.

  • Treatment gaps are most pronounced in Africa and Asia, with lower treatment coverage for women across all regions.

Global Drug Policies and Recommendations

Globally, cannabis use disorders account for a significant share of drug-related harm. In 2019, 41% of drug use disorder cases were related to cannabis. Simple drug use and possession continue to lead to the most law enforcement interactions, with 7 million people encountering police over drug offenses in 2022.

The UNODC report emphasizes the importance of a health-oriented approach to drug policy. It follows a recent human rights-focused UN report calling for the end of the war on drugs and advocating for harm reduction policies. Amnesty International and other advocacy groups also support the legalization of all drugs to focus on health and harm reduction.

The 2024 World Drug Report underscores the impact of cannabis legalization on reducing illicit markets and arrests. It also highlights the evolving landscape of psychedelic research and the need for compassionate, evidence-based drug policies. As global drug trends shift, the focus on health and human rights remains paramount in addressing substance use disorders and their broader societal impacts.

Take Action: Renew or Obtain Your Medical Marijuana Card

With the evolving landscape of cannabis legalization and its proven medical benefits, now is the perfect time to renew or obtain your medical marijuana card. Having a medical marijuana card provides you with legal access to a wide range of cannabis products tailored to meet your health needs. Whether you are seeking relief from chronic pain, anxiety, or other medical conditions, a medical marijuana card ensures you are accessing safe, regulated products. Don’t wait—secure your card today and take control of your health and wellness journey.


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