Have you ever wondered where on Earth people smoke the most weed? Me too. Unfortunately, that kind of information tends to be vague and somewhat fuzzy. With cannabis illegal practically everywhere around the world, the production, sales and consumption of pot is driven underground to the black market.
However, there are many organizations dedicated to keeping track of drug traffic, the largest and most respected being the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Every year they publish the World Drug Report, which uses surveys and law enforcement data to estimate the percentage of the population in different countries which use drugs. This list draws on data from the UNODC to determine the total number of cannabis users in each country (not the highest use per capita, as you’ll see in other lists). This gives us a better picture of how much weed is actually smoked in any given country.
Without further ado, I give you the 10 countries that smoke the most weed:
Canada is a land of wide open spaces, natural beauty – and liberal marijuana laws. The government issues licenses for medical and industrial use, and often “looks the other way” on recreational use, especially in the province of British Columbia. Of 36 million citizens, the World Drug Report found that 12.6% were marijuana smokers, enough for Canada to squeak in at #10 on our list with 4.5 million cannabis smokers.
Spain is one of the leading examples of drug policy reform, pursuing a model of decriminalization and treatment instead of punishment and imprisonment. It is legal to grow and consume cannabis in your home or in private clubs, and smoking in public only results in a fine and seizure. According to the report, 10.6% of Spaniards use cannabis; but some sources put the figure as high as 25%. With a population of 46 million people, even using the more conservative estimate means that there are 4.8 million smokers in Spain – more than enough to make the list.
Egypt is famous for being home to one of the oldest civilizations on Earth, and the site of such ancient wonders as the Sphinx and the pyramids at Giza. Ancient Egyptians used cannabis medicinally, religiously and recreationally, but it was outlawed in 1925 under the Geneva Convention on Narcotic Control. However, marijuana use is still widespread, and very much a part of the culture. The report found that only 6.2% of Egyptians are cannabis users, but with a total population of 88 million, that is more than 5.4 million smokers; #8 in the world.
France is not known for being lenient with drug offenders. Getting caught smoking on the streets of Paris could get you up to a year in jail. Despite facing these harsh penalties, however, 8.6% percent of French people admit to using cannabis. With a population of 66 million, that calculates to 5.6 million pot smokers in France, making it one of the top consuming countries in Europe, and #7 in the world.
Somewhat surprisingly, the tiny African nation of Ghana is one of the world’s top consumers of cannabis. Despite marijuana technically being illegal there, it seems that smoking pot has become increasingly commonplace, especially among young people. With a population of only 27 million, Ghana is the smallest nation on our list. But with an incredible 21.5% of the population, or 5.8 million people, admitting to cannabis use, Ghana is the sixth biggest consumer of marijuana in the world.
Pakistan has a long history of cannabis and hashish use. It is used openly by Hindus and Sufis for religious purposes, and is sometimes smoked during communal gatherings. Although technically illegal, marijuana is somewhat tolerated, and the laws are seldom enforced. According to the report, only 3.9% of Pakistanis consume cannabis. But, as the fifth most populous nation on Earth, home to 196 million people, that still translates to 7.6 million pot smokers, making Pakistan #5 on our list.
Italy is the birthplace of linguine, Lamborghini and Leonardo da Vinci. This lovely Mediterranean nation is also Europe’s largest consumer of cannabis. Marijuana is illegal there, although possession of small amounts of pot has been somewhat decriminalized – you can be fined, and have your license suspended, but you can’t be sent to jail. Regardless of the legal status, 14.6% of Italians smoke weed, out of a population of 61 million. That’s 8.9 million admitted cannabis users, #4 in the world.
Nigeria is the largest nation in Africa, in terms of both population and economy – so, no surprise that it is the largest consumer of cannabis on the the continent. Marijuana is illegal, but it’s use is still very widespread. Of 174 million people, 14.3% of them are cannabis users. Which means that there are 24.8 million pot smokers in this West African nation, making Nigeria the third largest consumer of weed in the world.
Cannabis has been a part of Indian life and culture for thousands of years, a fixture in certain religious rituals and festivals. The British government began to impose restrictions and regulations on hemp and marijuana in the late 19th century, which only intensified with the rise of international drug treaties. Today pot is technically illegal, but is actually sold and consumed openly in some states, especially in the form of bhang. Though a mere 3.2% of the population uses marijuana, India is home to 1.2 billion people. That equates to 38.4 million cannabis users, meaning the second most populous nation on Earth is also the second biggest consumer of ganja.
The U.S. is currently undergoing a sea change in marijuana policy. The latest scientific research shows the tremendous medicinal potential of cannabis, and the latest polls indicate that a majority of Americans are in favor of legalization. Medical marijuana is legal in more than 20 states, and recreational use is legal in four states, the District of Columbia, and the cities of Portland and South Portland in Maine. 13.7% of Americans admit to using cannabis, and out of a population of 320 million, that’s 43.8 million smokers. Which means that when it comes to smoking weed, nobody does it more than the U.S. of A.