Cannabis is Luxembourg's most popular drug
Cannabis is Luxembourg's most commonly used psychoactive drug and accounts for nearly a quarter of requests for treatment help, health officials said on Thursday.
Cannabis consumption has increased significantly since 2014, the Grand Duchy’s 2021 national drug report released this week said. Lawmakers in 2018 agreed to decriminalise its use by patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis or neurodegenerative diseases.
Young adults and teenagers aged between 15 to 34 years old were 12% more likely to use marijuana last year than in 2019, said the report put together by the Luxembourg Focal Point of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions (PFLDT).
But in 2020, 24% "of the drug treatment demands were related to primary cannabis use," the Health Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
Cannabis was behind only cocaine for abusers seeking treatment at specialised treatment centres, the report said. Marijuana treatment requests have increased as higher THC levels were linked to a higher risk of mental health and social problems, the report said.
The benefits of legalising the psychoactive plant has long been debated.
Doctors in the Grand Duchy prescribed 140 kg of cannabis for medical use in 2020 to help cancer patients fight nausea during chemotherapy and other similar conditions -- almost three times more than in 2019, Health Ministry data published last year said.
The annual drugs report also pointed to Luxembourg’s efforts in providing substitutional treatment for drug addiction, with methadone clinics, a pain relief medication used to replace heroin amongst heavy opioid users.
A pilot project coordinated by the Directorate of Health and run by the Jugend-an drogenhëllef Foundation has shown some success since 2017 with a new type of treatment.
Heavy heroin users given the diacetylmorphine to complete methadone treatment or replace it entirely helped more addicts remain sober, Julie Quintus, the substitution programme manager and Alain Origer, the national drug coordinator, said on Thursday.
“Statistics, experiences and questionnaires replies showed that the treatment with diacetylmorphine is a success,” Quintus and Origer said.
In March, Luxembourg’s Customs and Excise Agency (ADA) reported that the Grand Duchy’s border authorities seized more illegal drugs last year, with the volume of potentially deadly heroin increasing by a third over 2020.
Customs officers also confiscated nearly 32,000g of hashish last year compared to almost 143g of the compressed and processed cannabis substance confiscated in 2020.
The psychoactive plant has been an attractive substance among Luxembourg consumers, since it was legalised for certain medical treatment. Last year, Lenert said that the Benelux nation was running low on medical cannabis as the country's sole supplier was struggling to meet demand, and that it was posing a risk for patients, such as those suffering from cancer or multiple sclerosis.