This chapter reviews cannabis use and the cannabis market in the current circumstances of an international prohibition regime. Prohibition of an attractive substance creates illegal markets, which have consequences in terms of the contours of production, distribution and consumption. In the first half of the chapter we examine data on the prevalence of cannabis use, the prices that are charged and the revenues that are generated. The second half examines the enforcement of prohibitions; how many individuals are charged with various kinds of cannabis offenses and what are the consequences of those charges. The emphasis is on the developed world, both because more data are available and because there is evidence that use rates are substantially higher in Western Europe, North America and Australia than in most poorer countries. The emphasis of the chapter is on the effects of full prohibition. We also cover the recent phenomenon of increasing demand for cannabis treatment, as it provides an important rationale in some countries for the continuation of the complete prohibition regimes. Lastly, we briefly describe the structure of the international prohibition regime, and its resistance to change on matters concerning cannabis. Chapters 4 and 5 take up the issue of how variations in prohibition, such as decriminalization, affect the principal outcomes.
Was this article helpful?