Estimating the size of the main illicit retail drug markets in Europe. An update

European Union Publications Office
Publication date:



The first market size estimates for cannabis, cocaine, MDMA, amphetamines and heroin were published in the EMCDDA‐Europol 2016 European Drug Markets Report, covering 2013. The challenges in obtaining such estimates were recognised at that time, though the need to assist policymakers in prioritising interventions by providing information on the scale, relative importance and changes in the markets for different drugs outweighed these concerns. The project was seen as a process, where the estimates would be improved in subsequent rounds by addressing data issues and developing the methodology. Since 2016 additional and different data sources have become available and where appropriate the methodology has been changed, though the basic underlying method remains as it was. Developments for the estimates published in this report include: data on the amounts of drugs used by various types of user have been extended and updated, using information from the European Web Survey on Drugs (EWSD); routinely monitored data from the Member States have been updated, improving estimates of the number of users and drug prices. For example, 24 of the EU countries have reported a more recent general population survey than that available when the initial estimates were made; crack use by high‐risk opioid users has been included in the cocaine market size estimates; data on patterns of use for cannabis herb and resin, separately obtained from the EWSD, have been used to estimate the contribution of these different forms of cannabis to the overall cannabis market. In the previous estimates, numbers of seizures were used in the absence of suitable information about use of these products.

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