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New Report Finds Most European Countries Are ‘Wilfully Ignorant’ to High Levels of Injustice in Policing and Criminal Enforcement of Adult Cannabis Use

A new report from a leading UK cannabis advisory company has highlighted how a failure to capture data related to race – when policing illicit adult cannabis use across Europe – risks adding to disproportionate outcomes for ethnic minorities that are apparent in countries like the UK.

The Social Impact of Cannabis Legalisation Report, published today by First Wednesdays, examines how social justice and equity outcomes for people from ethnic minority backgrounds are severely overlooked in many European countries. The problem is made worse by findings indicating that, where data is currently being collected, there are signs of racial profiling when it comes to policing illicit drug use.

The report finds there is disproportionality in UK stop and search protocol, and further highlights how organised crime, through the cannabis black market, is impacting migrants and vulnerable people via human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Cannabis is currently the most widely-consumed illicit drug in Europe – with a recent report indicating that 22 million adults (7.7% of the EU population) say they have consumed cannabis in the last year.

The report also highlights that, out of 28 European countries in the OECD, only 10 collect policing data aggregated by ethnicity and only two collect data aggregated by race. The UK is one of the countries currently collecting data on both, and the picture painted is extremely concerning – showing that black individuals are almost eight times more likely to be stopped for drug-related reasons than white individuals, while Asian, mixed and other ethnic groups are almost three times more likely.

Although data in the UK is collected on the number of people arrested as a result of stop and search protocol, there is insufficient data held on the resulting outcomes and impact upon these individuals – specifically with regard to social justice and equity outcomes.

For countries like France or Germany – where legislation was recently passed to legalise adult use cannabis – there is a lack of any data related to race or ethnicity. For both these countries, this is due to either a ‘colour blind’ approach being taken towards policy making and an active choice not to recognise race on a legislative level.

The Social Impact of Cannabis Legalisation Report includes a series of exclusive case studies on best practice for European cannabis businesses already operating in either the medical or recreational space, with guidance on how to tackle the resulting social justice and equity outcomes in the wake of a gradual incline of access to adult use cannabis, across Europe.

William Muecke, Managing Member at Artemis Growth Partners, said: “We cannot continue to moralise our way out of cannabis use by aligning drug use to certain groups of people within our society. Recreational consumption of cannabis is growing exponentially and has a varying spectrum of users.  

“In recognising the scale of usage we can begin to effectively legislate and regulate illicit markets and bring a sense of order and opportunity to those most harmed by prohibition.

“Whilst there is a long uphill battle to secure policy reform which centres around a harm reductive approach to adult consumption, we cannot sit back and allow a continued and pronounced attack on people’s human rights – carried out through the current racially biased approach to policing adult cannabis use.”

Charlotte Bowyer, Head of Advisory at Hanway Associates, said: “National bans on collecting race and ethnicity data in Europe are a fundamental challenge to reforming cannabis laws.  

Given many US social equity schemes developed for cannabis would be illegal to introduce here, European countries need to develop their own framework for driving social justice reform.  Non-commercial types of cannabis legalisation, like home grow and social clubs – alongside record expungement for past offences – could be a powerful way to provide legal, non-violent sources of cannabis and transition small-scale growers into a legal system.”



About The Social Impact of Cannabis Legalisation Report

The Social Impact of Cannabis Legalisation Report can be accessed here and is published by First Wednesdays, sponsored by Artemis Growth Partners and produced by Hanway Associates, Pagefield Communications and Loveblood.

This report was carried out in partnership with Volteface, Prohibition Partners, Krautinvest and CANNAVIGIA

About First Wednesdays

First Wednesdays is a pan-European network of entrepreneurs and investors and the publishing arm of The Hanway Company drug policy venture studio.

About Hanway Associates

Hanway Associates specialise in strategy and M&A for the cannabis sector. The team help companies launch, build and grow within new markets.

About Artemis Growth Partners

Artemis Growth is a team of professional investors, operators, and advisors who have built and run successful, award-winning domestic and international impact funds.

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