If you had to guess which country consumed the most cannabis in the world, you’d surely start with places where the plant is at least legalized. Uruguay, for instance, legalized cannabis in 2013. Another choice might be Canada, which passed adult-use marijuana legislation in 2018. Heck, you could even pick countries where the drug is partially legalized, like the United States or Netherlands.
But if you picked any of those countries, you’d be wrong. That honor would instead go to Nigeria, a country where 19.4% of the population over the age of 18 have consumed marijuana in the past year, according to a Business Day report. That translates to an estimated 20.3 million Nigerians consuming marijuana a year, spending an estimated $15.3 billion dollars on the plant.
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Furthermore, New Frontier data indicates that at least 12% of Nigerians light up monthly. All this comes as a slight surprise, considering cannabis is illegal in Nigeria, though the western Ondo state is considering plans to create a medical marijuana program.
Don’t worry North American cannabis users, you fall close behind the Nigerians. Canadians came in second in marijuana consumption, with 15.8% of the population using marijuana, while the United States placed third, as 15% of Americans consume cannabis.
However, it’s other African nations like Ethiopia and Morocco that round up the top 10. In fact, the demand for cannabis is huge in Africa with an estimated market of $37 billion USD, which is mostly serviced by illicit trade.
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“Three of the world’s top 10 cannabis-consuming nations are in Africa, highlighting both the importance of cannabis reform and related business opportunities throughout the region,” Giadha Aguirre de Carcer, New Frontier Data’s Founder and CEO, told BusinessDay.
African countries already grow some of the most sought-after strains across the world. But if the continent embraces cannabis reform, it could be the next global cannabis superpower, making it a potential goldmine for investors.