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Black market cannabis seizures plummet as legalisation progresses in North America

Black market cannabis seizures plummet as legalisation progresses in North America
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The 2020 World Drug Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reveals that cannabis remains the controlled drug with the most global widespread use, estimated in the report at 192 million users globally.

Cannabis still represents more than half of all drug law offences cases in the 2014–2018 period. However, global seizures of cannabis herb fell to their lowest level in two decades in 2018, driven by the emergence of regulated markets in North America, where seizures have fallen by 84% in the last 10 years.

However, Africa, Asia and South America saw a rise in police seizures over the period. While countries like Afghanistan and Morocco have been major suppliers of illegal cannabis herb and resin in the last decades, the rising trend in cannabis use prevalence in developing nations may also be impacting cannabis seizures.

In 2019, 2.2% of all federal convictions in the US were drug cases with cannabis as the primary drug type. The Last Prisoner Project estimates that 40,000 prisoners in the US are still currently serving time for cannabis-related crimes. In England and Wales, where cannabis remains illegal except for medical purposes, cannabis possession represented 19% of all 2017 offenses.

By freeing up resources that could be dedicated to more pressing matters, and allowing the taxation of large swaths of the underground economy to fund reintegration and social equality programmes, cannabis legalisation is in the best interest of law enforcement.

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