Millions use cannabis, but figures for how many become dependent aren’t reliable
Estimated risk is 1 in 10 users
Cannabis has an image of being a relatively harmless drug. But all drugs carry a degree of risk, and cannabis is no exception. One of those risks is dependence, which many people assume is only something that happens to those who use “hard drugs”, such as crack or heroin. In fact, the estimated risk of dependence on cannabis is about one in 10.
This risk may seem relatively low, but given that there are an estimated 200m cannabis users across the globe, the potential number of people who are dependent on the drug is around 20m – roughly, the population of Romania.
Compared with cannabis, the chances of becoming dependent on tobacco are five times greater
It’s worth exploring how this figure of one in 10 is constructed. Several studies of cannabis dependence used the criteria (see below) laid out in the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to determine cannabis