The No.1 Marijuana Consumer Country

According to the United Nation’s figures, as a percentage of the national population, Icelanders consume the most marijuana in the world, although, these numbers doesn’t mean much and is not final. Here’s why.

According to the data collected by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, about 18% of the Icelanders consumed marijuana in 2012, and thus surpassing the U.S. where 15.4% of the population consumed cannabis throughout 2013. These figures from the U.N. are self-reported and the years they were collected differ by country.

icelandersThe Icelanders, when these numbers were released, did not like this reputation and disagreed with the numbers saying that the data was incomplete and that the numbers were only for a small portion of Icelanders and not the whole population.

And it seems they were right after all, because according to the experts, the U.N. seemed to forget maybe the most important figure for the public health and the success of the cannabis market: The number of people who consume marijuana on a daily basis, or nearly daily basis.

“Measuring past-year users doesn’t show us anything because so many people use very rarely, so they don’t factor into demand and they don’t factor into the public health harms,”
says Jonathan Caulkins, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Caulkin also states that “a little over half of cannabis use in the U.S. is consumed by people who spend more than half of their [total] waking hours under the influence.” What he is basically saying is that the bulk of consumption lies in the number of people who use marijuana every day or almost every day.

us flag weedThe National Survey on Drug Use and Health released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in September 2015, tells us that around 8% of Americans reported past-month marijuana use, which means that past-month cannabis use is up by 6% since 2003.

Even though these numbers are more accurate, concerning regular usage, than those for past-year use, Caulkin states that the most accurate figure that can tell use most is how many days a month a certain person is consuming.

Using information from the NSDUH, Caulkin states several facts:

  • In 2013, 1bout 40% of the Americans, who reported past-month marijuana use, said that they consumed it on 21 or more days.
  • Only 2.6% of Americans are using marijuana on a daily or nearly daily basis.
  • Younger Americans make up a large portion of daily users.
  • One in seventeen college students consume cannabis daily or nearly daily in 2014.

There’s little data like this for Iceland, although the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction compiled national population surveys about the daily or nearly daily usage of cannabis:

These reports vary in the year they were assembled, but the comparison with the past decade shows us that the numbers are relatively stable.

  • Spain, Italy and France have the highest percentage of their populations using cannabis on a daily or near daily basis.
  • Spain is on top with 2.6% of the population.
  • Next is Italy with 1.7%
  • Reports from France suggest that 1.5% of the population consumes cannabis daily or nearly daily.

Concerning the past-month usage, right behind the U.S. with 35% is Spain with 34%, followed by France with 33% and Italy with 24%.

As a conclusion, it can be stated that it is almost impossible to identify the No.1 Marijuana-Consumer Country, although the U.S. and Spain seem to lead the race.

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