Cannabis most used drug in Estonia (4)

Cannabis is being legalized in an increasing number of US states. (AFP/Scanpix)
11/10/2016 2:15 PM
Category: News

According to police information, cannabis is the most used drug in Estonia, and every year specially built cannabis farms are discovered. The number of drivers caught behind the wheel while under the influence has grown as well.

Urmet Tambre, head of the North Prefecture’s Office of Criminal Investigation, told ERR that the greatest percentage of drug-users fell into the 18-34 age range and that the drug with the most widespread use in Estonia remained cannabis, which was used by nearly 88 percent of drug-users.

Cannabis was followed in popularity of use by amphetamine, ecstasy and cocaine, however according to Tambre these other drugs were used significantly less.

An estimated 20 percent of the population in Estonia has used or tried drugs during their lifetime, a figure which according to Tambre has not changed significantly compared to previous years. “We can say, however, that among these users are fewer people who regularly use; rather there are a lot of one-time [experimenting] users,” he said.

The police does not maintain separate statistics for domestically-grown and imported cannabis, as, according to Tambre, a drug is a drug. “We know of incidents where cannabis is grown in Estonia and this is done fairly professionally,” he explained, adding that many growers grow cannabis primarily for their personal use or that of people close to them. “In such farms, the number of plants ranges from a couple to a couple dozen plants.”

The director of the Office of Criminal Investigation added that every year, more professional farms are discovered as well which are employing the use of special irrigation, lighting and fertilization systems, and that such farms require bigger investments and are always meant for the growth of goods intended for distribution.

This year, the police in Estonia have confiscated approximately 70 kilograms of illegal cannabis.

Number of drivers under influence of drugs increased

During the first ten months of 2016, nearly 210 drivers under the influence of drugs have been caught. In comparison, a total of 279 such drivers were caught in all of 2015 and just 182 drivers under the influence were caught in 2014. “Similarly to drunk driving, a driver under the influence of drugs is dangerous to both themselves and others in traffic,” Tambre explained, adding that unfortunately the number of drivers on the road while under the influence has increased.

The criminal investigation office director stated, however, that fentanyl, the most dangerous and addictive drug, is the reason why Estonia leads Europe in overdose-related deaths. “Fentanyl’s consumer base is broad-based and today the drug is used by nearly all age groups, including young people,” said Tambre, according to whom various stimulants and psychotropic drugs could also become gateway drug, or jumping-off point for stronger and more dangerous drugs for many.

Tambre claimed that the experience of initially experimenting with a drug could become a habit and later addiction. “Drug use seriously affects one’s health and can influence the rest of one’s life,” he added.

According to the results of a survey conducted by Turu-uuringute AS this summer, 93 percent of Estonian residents were against cannabis use and 87 percent did not support its legalization. The legalization of the growth and use of cannabis has also been discussed by the Legal Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, however it has not found support among representatives of the Estonian ministries, the police or health advocates.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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