Rising hashish at dwelling: How COVID-19 sparked a world growth

Breadcrumb Trail Links

This trend has gained momentum during the pandemic. So is this permanent or will the old supply chains hold their own again when countries return to some sort of normalcy?

Author of the article:

Gary Potter • • The conversation Hemp seedlings on windowsill and cactus In addition to the pandemic, most home builders around the world pointed to other motivations that matched our 2012 results: They wanted a product that was healthier, cheaper, while avoiding contact with criminals. Photo by Getty Images

Article content

In the days when “skunk” was mostly associated with Pepé Le Pew and hydroponics was a way to improve cucumbers, most of Britain’s cannabis supply was imported from places like Morocco and Lebanon. That changed in the UK and many other countries over the past two or three decades as organized criminal gangs set up growing operations closer to home.

Cannabis was still grown and marketed on a large scale in the more exotic places, especially when it came to resin, but a fair amount of production was now closer to demand in a process that economists refer to as import substitution.

  1. Canada residents are legally allowed to grow up to four plants at home, and spring is the time for those seeds to burst.

    How to grow cannabis indoors

  2. How it all started  PHOTO BY PHOTO Courtesy of the AUTHOR

    What I learned when I first tried growing cannabis

  3. Annie Bertrand and Jordana Zabitsky are the founders of Mothers Mary.  PHOTO BY MOTHER MARY

    Meet the cannabis mothers and entrepreneurs who are banning Facebook and Instagram

It’s hard to measure precisely, but the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit estimated that by 2012 80% of the cannabis consumed in the UK was grown here – up from 30% in the late 1990s. It’s probably well over 90% now.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

But in the past few years, cannabis has seen another big change. A considerable part of the demand is met today by small farmers who mainly support themselves and friends and acquaintances. This has become possible for a number of reasons, including improvements in growing technology, new varieties that are better suited for indoor growing, and the abundance of information and expertise available on the internet. As a result, many cannabis users are no longer dependent on traditional drug dealers.

This trend has gained momentum during the pandemic. So is this permanent or will the old supply chains hold their own again when countries return to some sort of normalcy?

Keeping up with cannabis

Myself and a group of like-minded cannabis researchers in Europe, North America and Australasia founded the Global Cannabis Cultivation Research Consortium in 2009 to oversee domestic cultivation growth and the development of cannabis markets.

In 2012 we surveyed growers in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the US to learn more about small-scale cultivation and how and why these people feel have engaged. Most turned out to be normal people – with normal jobs, normal family arrangements, and no more involvement in drug trafficking or other criminal offenses than any other segment of the public.

Cannabis policy has changed worldwide since then. An ever growing list of countries has legalized it in some form for medical purposes. Some have changed their laws so that possessing cannabis (and in some cases growing it for personal use) is no longer a criminal offense. Canada, Uruguay and various US states in particular have legalized not only medical but also recreational use.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

In 2020 we started our second international survey to see how this background affects cultivation. This time we looked at 18 countries, adding France, Georgia, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal and Uruguay to the original 11 countries. At the same time, we conducted a survey among people in non-participating countries. A global pandemic and national lockdowns weren’t part of our planning, but of course we added questions to see the impact.

The new knowledge

Since COVID-19 affects almost all areas of life, it can be expected to affect drug use and drug markets. People spent more time at home. Social interactions were limited, including being able to take drugs with friends or get them from usual sources. In the meantime, national and international drug supply networks have been disrupted.

Our preliminary results suggest that COVID-19 has affected domestic cannabis cultivation around the world. With nearly 5,000 respondents at the time of writing, 16% say they’ve only been involved in cannabis cultivation since the pandemic. 11% of respondents said more time at home was the reason for their growth, while 8% cited higher cannabis prices during the pandemic as a motivating factor.

More than a third of respondents said it was more difficult to meet in person with people they grew up with, or to obtain cannabis through personal social networks or their usual dealer. Still, fewer than one in ten reported that it was more difficult to get hold of cannabis seeds, growing machines, or other supplies such as fertilizers.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

There are some interesting differences between countries in the results. In Italy, more than a quarter of respondents had grown since the beginning of the pandemic – well above the global average. Meanwhile, a third of Portuguese respondents cited a shortage of cannabis during COVID-19 as a reason for growing their own.

In addition to the pandemic, most home builders around the world pointed to other motivations that matched our 2012 results: They wanted a product that was healthier, cheaper, while avoiding contact with criminals.

Three quarters of respondents say they grow cannabis because they enjoy it. Almost half report growing them for their own medicinal use. And while 15% say they grow to supply others with cannabis for medicinal purposes and 15% supply others for recreational use, our growers do not act as drug dealers: only 4% said they sell cannabis for a profit.

However, if Lockdown resulted in a significant number of people starting growing their own cannabis, it is also important to note that the vast majority of our participants have already grown it. And while many respondents (18%) said they grew more under lockdown, one in ten said they grew less or stopped growing altogether. Meanwhile, organized crime continues to fuel a large part of the UK cannabis market.

It must be emphasized that these are only preliminary results. We want to double the number of respondents to at least 10,000 in the coming months and will publish the final results in early 2022. Then let’s continue our research to see if these trends will continue as the pandemic recedes. We very much suspect it will: once people get into the habit of growing their own, there is little reason to shop at vendors again.

Anyone who wants to take part in our survey can find out more at globalweed.nl.

We apologize, but this video could not be loaded.

Gary Potter, Reader in Criminology, Lancaster University.

This article is republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Share this article on your social network

Weekend pharmacy

By clicking the “Subscribe” button, you agree to receive the above-mentioned newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300

Remarks

Postmedia strives to maintain a vibrant but civil discussion forum and to encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. It can take up to an hour for comments to be moderated before they appear on the website. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have turned on email notifications. You will now receive an email when you get a reply to your comment, when a comment thread you’re following is updated, or when a user follows comments. For more information and details on customizing your email settings, see our Community Guidelines.

Comments are closed.