Weed Olympics, cannabis use by country

Updated: Jan 18



Humans have used cannabis for at least over 2,500 years, with the earliest evidence being in East Asia where artifacts point to marijuana being used for grain and fiber as well as for it's recreational, medicinal, and ritual purposes. Over the course of this long relationship between humankind and cannabis many different cultures have made marijuana an integral part of various aspects of life including music, art, medicine, recreation and more. This has led to certain countries standing out when it comes to the percentage of total people in the country who consume marijuana.


The country with the highest marijuana use per capita is Nigeria with 19.4% of the population who are 15 and up having consumed cannabis within the past year, according to a study by the African Hemp and Cannabis report. This is especially remarkable because marijuana is currently illegal in Nigeria and most of Africa. Nigeria is also one of the largest suppliers of marijuana to the African continent, with cultivation largely concentrated in the southwestern region of Nigeria as it provides the most optimal growth conditions for marijuana. Despite these laws many Nigerian people, especially young people, have made marijuana a part of their way of life. Many young people in Nigeria have made marijuana a custom when welcoming guests into their home, making the plant a symbol of hospitality and trust according to a study by the Conversation. So why does a country with even higher cannabis use than weed-friendly Canada, or the partially weed-friendly United States have marijuana classified as a completely illegal substance? Strict marijuana laws in Nigeria originate from the colonization by the British empire dating back to 1901 when Nigeria officially became a British protectorate. British colonization would lead to Nigeria passing the 1935 Dangerous Drugs Act which criminalized both marijuana cultivation and consumption. These antiquated laws are largely propped up by corruption with law enforcement officials benefiting greatly from the illegal trade. Overall the ban on marijuana in Nigeria has done nothing but harm for the country as it props up corruption and gang violence, not to mention all of the economic benefits that Nigeria is passing up, which is been evident in countries like Canada who has a booming weed market.

Canada comes in second in marijuana usage with 15.8% of the population having consumed marijuana in the past year. With the country fully legalizing cannabis back in October of 2018 the country has made huge leaps and bounds especially for such a large and developed country. The country is home to some of the largest cannabis companies in the world including Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis. However, the progress in Canada does not go without criticism as Statistics Canada reports that just 29% of the population gets their marijuana from a legal source. This is largely due to retail stores lagging behind the overall demand for marijuana in Canada as well as the difficult circumstances created because of regulation naturally leading to higher prices. Overall Canada has one of the most promising weed markets in the world and although there is still progress to be made before the country becomes a promise land for marijuana, it deserves the recognition for the progress that it has made thus far.


The United States is third among countries with the highest percentage of cannabis use with 15% percent of the population having used this wonderful plant in the past year. Almost all of the states have legalized marijuana in some capacity. 34 of the 50 states have legalized weed for either recreational or medicinal purposes. States like California and Colorado, who legalized weed early on in comparison to other states have reaped rewards especially when it comes to tax revenue. Another important measure for success is crime rate which according to the CATO Institute stayed the same pre-legalization and post-legalization, with some evidence even pointing to the decrease in crime rates because of the elimination of black market cannabis.



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