More cannabis and less cocaine, lockdown changes Europe’s drug habits

Lisbon, Sep 22 (efe-epa).- Consumption of cannabis and benzodiazepines increased in Europe during lockdown while cocaine decreased, a European Union drugs agency reported Tuesday.

Restrictions imposed across the continent earlier this year in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic caused several changes in recreational drug consumption, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction said in its latest report.

There was less demand for substances commonly taken in social contexts such as MDMA and cocaine and an increase in the use of others such as cannabis and benzodiazepines, according to provisional data.

The consumption of legal drugs like alcohol also increased, according to the EMCDDA.

Director Alexis Goosdeel said at a press conference in Lisbon to present the report that more research is needed to determine if the changes will be long-lasting.

He said the pandemic has also pushed the drug market to digitize due to mobility restrictions that made street dealing almost impossible.

Many dealers turned to the dark web, social media and home delivery services, he added.

Wholesale trading, involving large shipments of drugs by organized crime groups, has proven to be “extremely resilient”, according to Goosdeel.

There were fewer passenger flights due to the pandemic but sea traffic continued at the same levels as before, the report stated.

Production of synthetic drugs and cannabis cultivation in Europe was also largely unaffected by the contagion and restrictions to contain it.

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