At least €11.6 billion were spent by Europeans on illegal cannabis purchases in 2017, placing the marijuana market first on the EU drug market list, the bloc’s anti-drugs agency revealed on its annual report. 

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) said there was an increase in the EU’s overall narcotics market, which was worth at least €30 billion in 2017 in an overall global market that is worth roughly €500 billion.

Herbal cannabis and its resin’s sales amounted to 39% of the EU drug market, a 1% increase from 2013. While most of the imported resin comes from Morocco, the biggest quantity of herbal cannabis is exported by Albania. The report said the cannabis that is consumed in the EU is increasingly Albanian produced.

The cocaine market is the second strongest in the EU with revenues of at least €9 billion in 2017, which is slightly higher than the heroin market’s €7 billion net worth. 

“The European drug market is increasingly characterised by consumers who have access to a wide variety of high-purity and high-potency products,” the EU agency said.

According to the report, the production of cocaine is almost entirely concentrated in South America, while 95% of the heroin that is consumed by Europeans comes from Afghanistan’s historically high crop yields of opium poppies.

The vast revenues from the sale of both narcotics and psychoactive drugs go to organised crime groups in Southern Europe and the former Soviet Union as well as to militant Islamic organisations that include the Afghan Taliban, Boko Haram in Nigeria, ISIS, and Somalia’s al-Shabaab.

The report also warned that each of the groups involved in the production, sale, and transfer of illegal drugs are using increasingly sophisticated laundering methods, such as cryptocurrencies, as well as high-denomination banknotes that are used by cash couriers to smuggle dirty money.