Estonians are among the biggest marijuana lovers

According to the United Nations’ data on drugs, Estonia is among the top 30 nations for marijuana consumption.

Despite the ultra-orthodox public thinking on all kind of drugs and fierce opposition for legalising cannabis by most Estonian politicians, officially 6% of the country’s population regularly smoke weed. With this number, Estonia is 28th biggest marijuana loving nation on the planet. The rest of the population doesn’t share this love, however – according to the latest available survey, conducted by Turu-uuringute AS in 2016, 93 per cent of Estonian residents were against cannabis use and 87 per cent did not support its legalisation.

Officially, both the consumption and selling of marijuana is still illegal in Estonia. In fact, anyone caught trading or growing the ancient drug could be imprisoned for up to three years, while the maximum sentence is five. But there are number of activists who argue for legalisation. In 2015, an ultimately failed petition was handed over to the Estonian parliament which drew attention to the fact that while using cannabis for personal consumption is illegal in Estonia, the country is still number one in Europe in terms of drug-related deaths – and fifth in the world, according to the United Nations’ drug report. Most of the deaths occur due to high prevalence of fentanyl use – a potent and dangerous drug.

While the stigmas associated with any kinds of drugs have so far delayed a normal and open debate in the Estonian society, the activists standing for legalisation of cannabis argue that enabling people to purchase marijuana, which is not considered life-threatening, would avoid drug deaths from the more dangerous stimulants.

Indeed, Portugal’s example proves that liberalising the drug policy does not bring negative effects – the opposite has happened, in fact. The country decriminalised all drugs in 2001 and within a decade substance abuse was reported to have halved. In recent years, more and more countries have followed suit and legalised marijuana consumption at least. In the US, nine states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Washington, DC – have legalised recreational use of cannabis.

The 30 biggest weed smoking countries

  1. Iceland – 18.3 per cent of population
  2. United States – 16.3%
  3. Nigeria – 14.3%
  4. Canada – 12.7%
  5. Chile – 11.83%
  6. France – 11.1%
  7. New Zealand – 11%
  8. Bermuda – 10.9%
  9. Australia – 10.2%
  10. Zambia – 9.5%
  11. Uruguay – 9.3%
  12. Italy – 9.2%
  13. Spain – 9.2%
  14. Madagascar – 9.1%
  15. Czech Republic – 8.9%
  16. Israel – 8.88%
  17. St Lucia – 8.87%
  18. Belize – 8.45%
  19. Barbados – 8.3%
  20. Netherlands – 8%
  21. Greenland – 7.6%
  22. Jamaica – 7.21%
  23. Denmark – 6.9%
  24. Switzerland – 6.7%
  25. Egypt – 6.24%
  26. UK – 6.2%
  27. Ireland – 6%
  28. Estonia – 6%
  29. Bahamas – 5.54%
  30. Sierra Leone – 5.42%

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Read also: Justin Zehmke: The time to legalise marijuana in Estonia has comeThe cover image is illustrative (Shutterstock.)

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About the author: Silver Tambur

Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. He has previously studied journalism at the University of Tartu, and Politics & Society at the Birkbeck College, University of London. Silver has been the editor at the Estonian Public Broadcasting’s news service in English, as well as contributing for the Business Sense magazine in the UK, Deutsche Welle and Radio New Zealand. You can also follow him on Twitter. You can write to Silver at silver@estonianworld.com.