Cannabis on the European Black Market Contains Dangerous Levels of THC

Cannabis resin seized from the European black market shows a sobering fact: Cannabis resin sold in Europe has higher levels of THC than ever before.

The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has revealed that the THC content of cannabis resin averages between 20% to 28%, almost double the percentage found in the cannabis flower. Nevertheless, the THC content of cannabis flowers remains the same.

While commercial products sold legally in Europe include cannabis extracts, they generally have low levels of THC. This legal market exists alongside the high-THC products and products contaminated by synthetic cannabis sold on the black market.

The EMCDDA’s Report

The data the EMCDDA released in their 2021 drug report revealed the information of possible contamination and dangerously high levels of THC found on the black market. The report states that the EMCDDA is unsure of the cause of this development. Still, it may be attributed to cannabis shortages caused by the pandemic, or in certain countries, by criminal groups exploiting the availability of low THC products, which can be indistinguishable from cannabis sold on the black market.

The EMCDDA has monitored the drug situation in Europe for over 25 years, and its annual trends and development report gathers information provided by EU member states, Turkey, and Norway and presents a comprehensive overview of the drug climate in Europe. The report covers all facets of the drug situation in Europe, from use to supply to public health issues. The UK is excluded from the 2021 report due to its having left the EU earlier last year.

How the Pandemic Has, and Hasn’t Changed The Situation

The report indicates that coronavirus travel restrictions and border closures have had little to no effect on drug trafficking throughout the continent. Both illegal producers and suppliers quickly adapted to pandemic-related restrictions by transferring a majority of their activities online and locating new distribution and courier channels.

Despite the effect social distancing measures could have on retail drug dealing, it led to the illicit drug industry adopting new technologies to facilitate distribution, accelerating the phenomenon of the drug market moving to the digital sphere and embracing technological retail solutions.

Additionally, cannabis cultivation and synthetic drug production within the EU remained at pre-pandemic levels during the pandemic. Smuggling through seaports to avoid land border closures led to massive amounts of contraband drugs being seized.

The Risks and the Solution

The synthetic cannabinoids and high levels of THC have put consumers willing to purchase cannabis through illicit channels at risk. In addition, high THC and artificial cannabinoids have the potential to pose extreme health risks for consumers who are unaware of what their cannabis products actually contain.

This has made access to at-home cannabis testing more essential than ever. Finally, consumers can find out what they are putting into their bodies, and dispensaries can fulfill their responsibility to safeguard their customers’ health. With devices such as GemmaCert’s at-home testing kits, consumers can test their products and find out the level of THC it contains, receiving their results in less than five minutes.

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