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Most of us view marijuana not as a drug, but as a magical substance that applies itself to remedying many of life’s stresses and ailments. After all, in America public opinion suggests that marijuana is only known as a drug because the government labels it as such.

A new interactive map, compiled by drug treatment group Recovery Bands, shows the prevalence of popular drugs in nations across the globe. The data is taken from the latest United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report, and it indicates that marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance worldwide.

Top Cannabis Consumers

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Surprisingly, Iceland tops the list of top cannabis users reporting that 18% of their population consumes marijuana regularly. The United States comes in second with slightly less than 15% of the population using marijuana. The report also considers the percentage of the population that is enrolled in some kind of drug treatment program. New Zealand, who comes in third for cannabis use with 14.6% of the population consuming, also has one of the highest rates of people enrolled in drug treatment programs.New Ze

New Zealand boasts one of the highest quality of life measures, and yet 14,392 per every 1million people are enrolled in a drug treatment program. On average it costs the country about $19 per person enrolled in one of these programs, which adds up significantly over time.

The report indicates that worldwide consumption of marijuana is increasing. The increase in marijuana use is likely the result of an increased global supply and people having a better understanding of the effects of marijuana. For hundreds of years, societies have known the effects of THC, the main cannabinoid in marijuana, but they have misunderstood it. Now that there are global initiatives to further research and education about marijuana, the public is clearly changing their sentiment about the “drug”.

Opiates

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Though marijuana use is increasing, opiate abuse is remaining constant with increased abuse in some nations. In America, there are whispers of private companies and research facilities that are trying to develop therapies that use marijuana as a substitute for opiates, but as of now there are no official offerings.

What is alarming about the opiate abuse statistics is that very few countries report that their population demands treatment for their addiction. The report suggests that this could be a factor of people being addicted to heroin, which is considered a subculture epidemic, but still contributes to the opiate statistics. Simply, cannabis use in New Zealand may be viewed as out of control, but people are actively looking for ways to manage their problem; whereas countries that report high levels of opiate abuse do not report people looking to solve the problem.

Marijuana may never be a true substitute for opiate abuse, but there are individuals who use it to manage their addiction nonetheless. It is wonderful to see that marijuana has become the most popular “drug” in the world because we know it is also one of the least harmful. If we stay on this track, we can theorize that marijuana may eventually become the everyday substance, in the eyes of critics, which we know it is.

Check out the interactive map here.

What do you think about marijuana being the most popular drug in the world? Let us know on social media or in the comments section below.

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