The turnover of the European black market for hemp is 11.6 billion euros
The European Center for Drug and Addiction Monitoring (EMCDDA) has published a report on the drug market. The document states that EU residents spend 11.6 billion euros a year on illegal hemp.
Cannabis remains the most popular drug
The annual income of drug traffickers in Europe is at least 30 billion euros. Of these, hemp accounts for 39%. Cocaine (31%, 9.1 billion euros) is on the second line in this indicator. Heroin closes the top three (25%, 7.4 billion euros). Amphetamine sales reach € 1 billion (3%), MDMA trade brings € 500 million per year (2%). The cost of 1 gram of marijuana is from 7 to 13 euros, the concentration of THC is from 9% to 12%. The price of hashish varies in the range from 9 to 13 euros and the content of THC – from 15% to 22%.
According to experts, 91.2 million Europeans aged 15 to 64 years have used cannabis at least once in their lives. Between 2007 and 2017, the number of arrests for crimes related to hemp trafficking increased from 532,000 to 765,743. 83% of the offenders were detained for possession or use of cannabinoids, 15% for sales, the remaining 2% – for other misconduct. Over the same period, the number of people seeking help in treating the effects of cannabis increased from 40,000 to 70,000.
Albania is the main supplier of marijuana to the European market. In 2016, Albanian police destroyed 5,205 hemp crops, in 2017 – 500, and in 2018 – 379. Law enforcement authorities confiscated 30 tons of marijuana in 2016 and 78 tons in 2017. However, cannabis export from Albania has not decreased, so experts suggest that growers began to grow the plant in the closed ground to exclude the likelihood of finding a farm from an airplane. The first and second places in the amount of marijuana seized were taken by Turkey (92 tons) and Italy (90 tons).
Europol reports an increase in hemp sown areas in the states located on the Balkan Peninsula. Cannabis is transported by ship to Italy and then distributed throughout the EU. The leading positions in the volume of plant cultivation within Europe are held by Belgium, Greece, Spain, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Norway. Police in these countries seized 50 kilograms of marijuana and 18,000 packages of hemp seeds in a year. However, the Netherlands is the undisputed leader. In 2017, 722,618 cannabis bushes were confiscated in the country. Dutch electricians estimate that in 2018, cannabis growers stole 95 million kWh of electricity worth 195 million euros. According to police, in the Netherlands, there are about 30,000 illegal hemp farms, which annually steal about 1 billion kW / h of electricity.
The leading suppliers of hashish to the European market are Morocco, Afghanistan, Albania and Lebanon. In Morocco, the hemp sown area reaches 47,000 hectares, from 700 to 760 tons of hashish per year are produced from raw materials. In Europe, a small amount of hash is produced, mainly Dutch coffee shops. The average concentration of THC in the imported hash is 21%, and in the Netherlands – 35%. Dutch law enforcement agencies have thwarted the activities of several processing plants that produced potent hemp extracts (up to 60% THC ).
In 2017, EU police seized 209 tons of hash. The largest batches of the drug were found in Italy, Spain, Greece, the UK, and France. 72% of the confiscated hash was produced in Morocco. Smugglers transport illegal products in motorboats and private jets.