Sources of cannabis acquisition by country and frequency of use in the European web survey on drugs


This paper analyses the data collected in the European Web Survey on Drugs (EWSD) on the sources of supply for herbal cannabis and cannabis resin and their relationship to frequency of use. It does so by using data collected from the 16 countries that participated in the first two waves of the survey (2016 and 2017/18). In addition, this analysis aims to fill gaps in the existing literature on this topic: namely, research conducted prior to the EWSD has largely taken place in the United States, it has only considered a limited number of sources and has not studied cannabis resin separately. Through its examination of sources of cannabis and frequency of use, the EWSD can address these limitations while potentially providing valuable information to practitioners and policymakers.

This publication is published as part of a collection of papers on web surveys: Monitoring drug use in the digital age: studies in web survey (Insights 26).

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A substantial amount of research has focused on understanding the sources from which individuals acquire illicit substances. To contribute to this area of research, the European Web Survey on Drugs (EWSD) included several questions to assess where individuals obtain the substances that they use. Using data from 16 countries covered in two waves of the EWSD, this chapter first explores the four different sources from which the two most commonly used forms of cannabis, herbal and resin, are acquired. In doing such, this chapter shows that there is considerable variation in the sources from which people acquire cannabis across these countries. Second, it analyses the relationship between sources of acquisition and frequency of use for these two forms of cannabis. The results of the analysis show that acquiring cannabis from a dealer and growing one’s own supply (and to a lesser extent purchasing it online) increases with frequency of use. While this pattern was highly consistent across countries for herbal cannabis, there was some variation for cannabis resin. These results highlight the importance of studying different forms of cannabis separately. As differences still exist between countries, context-specific issues may influence the relationship between patterns of use and sources of acquisition, which require further research.

Table of contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Sources of drug acquisition and limitations of past research
  • Data and methods
  • Conclusion
  • References