Is Africa The Next Big Global Marijuana Market?

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Written by Staff

By Russ Belville | From Marijuana Politics

While South Africa’s parliament continues to struggle with whether to legalize dagga (marijuana) or just allow medical marijuana use, the rest of the African continent continues to produce and use cannabis at rates that rival North America.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) in its 2009 report, Cannabis in Africa, the “highest levels of cannabis production in the world take place on the African continent.” Granted, the report is based on cultivation data from 2005, before marijuana production became commercially legal in some of the United States, but at the time, Africa made up “roughly 25 per cent of global production of cannabis herb.” (I could not find newer global production data from UNODC by press time.)

More cannabis is seized by police in North America, but Africa is a very close second place. Behind the United States and Mexico, South Africa is the country with the third-greatest amount of cannabis seized, making up over 40 percent of all African cannabis seized.

In the UNODC’s World Drug Report 2015, Africa’s estimated rate of annual cannabis usage by people aged 15-64 is 7.5 percent, almost double the global average of 3.9 percent. Africa’s continental rate is third behind Oceania at 10.7 percent and North America at 11.6 percent. However, the West- and Central-Africans are using at rate of 12.4 percent of their population per year.

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