The United Nations has called for a worldwide ban on the advertising of cannabis products.
In a report which could have serious ramifications for the industry, health experts have demanded cannabis products to be treated in much the same way as tobacco.
The World Drug Report 2021 will make for grim reading for those in the industry pushing to have restrictions on promotion eased as the industry expands.
As well as a call for a ‘comprehensive’ ad ban, the report calls for public awareness campaigns from public bodies on recreational and medical cannabis use, as well as for the ‘so-called wellness industry’.
The influential annual report analyses trends in drug use – both legal and illegal – and makes a number of policy recommendations for participating nations.
The report warns THC levels in cannabis product have ‘quadrupled in strength in the United States of America and have doubled in Europe in the last two decades’.
Despite this, the ‘percentage of adolescents perceiving cannabis as harmful has decreased by as much as 40 per cent during the same period’.
In a key finding, the report concludes: “A comprehensive ban on advertising, promoting and sponsoring cannabis would ensure that public health interests prevail over business interests.
“Such a ban would need to apply across all jurisdictions. The measures could work in a way similar to the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
“More investment is needed for research into the harm that the non-medical use of cannabis poses to health and to better define the range of health conditions for which cannabis products may be an effective treatment.”
Parallel cannabis industries are growing in different parts of the world, covering medical and recreational use of products containing THC and psychoactive consumer products like CBD.
The UN has called for better awareness of all three markets in order to reduce drugs-related harm.
The report finds: “Awareness-raising and communication efforts that disseminate scientific information without stigmatising people who use drugs or people with drug use disorders can help to avoid misperceptions.
“Messages must be fact-based and a clear distinction must be made among the effective medical uses of cannabis products for some ailments, the use of cannabis products such as CBD in the so-called wellness industry and the consequences of the non-medical use of cannabis.”