For many Americans, cannabis is a deeply ingrained part of daily life and of our culture. But do you ever wonder what cannabis use outside of the U.S. looks like? 

Enter the Global Drug Survey — an independent, self-funded research organization with a stated mission of making drug use safer, regardless of legal status. In their 2017 report, they surveyed over 69,000 cannabis users in 25 countries. Notably, this sample lacks countries from Asia and Africa.

Below we’ll look at some interesting results from the survey findings, using a Q&A format. 

Q: How many people used cannabis more than 300 days in the last 12 months?

A: 19 percent of the global sample reported this frequency of cannabis use. Another 23 percent of the sample reported using cannabis only between 2 and 10 days in the last 12 months.

Thoughts: Interesting that there is nearly the same number of people reporting very frequent cannabis use as there are reporting very infrequent use. What reasons would the infrequent users give for their patterns of use?

Q: Who uses cannabis more often — men or women?

A: According to these data, men use more often (they reported using cannabis an average of 144.5 days in the last 12 months) compared to women (110 days in the last 12 months).  

Thoughts: Not too surprising, though if we factored in the recent surge in CBD use among women, this disparity would probably disappear.

Q: Which country is the leader in smoking a joint within 5 minutes to 1 hour of waking up in the morning?

A: The good ol’ USA was #1 in this category, with 22 percent of U.S. respondents reporting this use. Notably, Mexico was not far behind (18 percent). You may be surprised to learn the country that reported the lowest number of people with this use was the Netherlands (3.6 percent)!

Thoughts: Who would have thought that the U.S. and Mexico would have such similar morning routines? The extremely low rate of wake-and-bake users in the Netherlands is a great example of the different cultural expressions of cannabis use. Keep in mind that Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, which used to be one of the most popular spots in the world to get high-grade cannabis. But apparently Netherlanders prefer their use after breakfast.

Q: Who uses tobacco with their cannabis?

A: Not surprisingly, Europe led the way in this category; Italy, Greece, Hungary, Denmark, and Switzerland all had affirming responses of 90 percent or higher. The surprise? The U.S. was dead last in this category (8 percent) followed closely once again by Mexico (9 percent)!

Thoughts: We already knew that combining tobacco and cannabis is popular in Europe. Should this be a consideration when we talk about any supposed rise in global cannabis addiction? Despite the popularity of spliffs and blunts, us Americans are apparently purists at heart when it comes to our cannabis use. And Mexicans agree!

Q: Who wants to use less cannabis than they already do?

A: Denmark is the leader here, with a whopping 44 percent reporting a desire to use less, with 13 percent of these people also reporting that they would like help in cutting back on their cannabis use. The U.S. ranked second-to-last, with 22 percent of respondents reporting a desire to use less cannabis; 12 percent of these people want help in doing so. 

Thoughts: Could the desire of nearly half of the Danish respondents to use less cannabis have to do with their high rate of combining it with tobacco? Maybe this is just as much a desire to cut down on tobacco use as well. Although the U.S. was ranked very low in this category, the rate of respondents who want to cut back is still quite high: over one in five. The debate rages on regarding whether cannabis is truly addictive, but numbers like this should not be ignored.

Q: Globally, how many people sought emergency medical treatment following use of cannabis?

A: According to this global sample, just 0.6 percent of people did this. 

Thoughts: Once again, we have data that contradict popular headlines suggesting that there are waves of people being rushed to the hospital from overdoses of THC. Cannabis users should always abide by guidelines for responsible use, but this rate of emergency medical treatment is very low indeed.

Thanks for going on this trip around the world to learn a bit more about global cannabis use! Stay tuned for more thoughts on the exciting data being collected for 2019!