Czech marihuana consumption down but still highest in Europe

The consumption of marihuana in the Czech Republic along with other illicit substances has dropped, according to the annual report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction published on Thursday. Despite this, young Czech adults of up to 24 years of age consume more marihuana than their peers anywhere else in Europe.

The abuse of illegal drugs in the Czech Republic decreased somewhat in recent years but young Czech adults still top the list of most frequent marihuana consumers in Europe, according to a 2007 report on the state of drugs problem in Europe. Viktor Mravcik is the head of the government’s National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Abuse.

“The Czech Republic has now belonged for a few years to a group of countries with high prevalence of marihuana use. These countries include the U.K., Spain, France and Italy – that country has become part of this group only recently, and it is the only country where marihuana use in on the rise. In all other countries from this top group, marihuana use has had decreasing tendencies, and that is also the case of the Czech Republic.”

With 28 percent of Czechs under 24 saying they have experienced marihuana, the Czech Republic tops the list and is also the only post-communist country among the first ten countries. The reasons why Czechs have fallen for marihuana so much, says Viktor Mravcik, are difficult to decipher.

“This issue is rather complex and there is no simple answer to that. There are many social-cultural reasons behind this. All these trends take place in a broad cultural context. I can mention very high tolerance for alcohol and tobacco use in Czech society. So it should be viewed in this background.”

The good news, on the other hand, is that on the whole, Czechs are using fewer drugs now than in the previous years.

“In recent years, we have observed decreasing prevalence in the use of marihuana in the whole population as well as in the population of young adults of up to 32 and even 25 years of age. A very good sign is that last year, we witnessed for the first time in 15 years a decrease in the use of all illicit substances including marihuana, ecstasy and in pervitin, the Czech speciality. In opiates, decreasing trends have been observed since the late 1990s. One exception here, with the young population, is the popularity of inhalants.”

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Abuse report for 2007 claims that of all the drugs popular with Europeans, cocaine is fast gaining ground in clubs and discos across the continent with about 7.5 million Europeans of up to 34 having used it at least once in their lifetimes. Can the Czech Republic expect a similar increase in cocaine use in the near future? Viktor Mravcik again.

“For the time being, cocaine use in the Czech Republic is at a very low level. We are not facing the increase that has been observed in Western Europe. The Czech Republic has the highest number of problematic methamphetamine – or pervitin – users in Europe, and their number is even higher than that of opiates users. Very probably, cocaine use will increase but the question is when. I don’t think that in the near future we can expect any major change or increase.”