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Market Shares of Cannabis Varieties

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Respondents were asked approximately what percentage of their cannabis use was of particular varieties. The figures were weighted to allow for heavier users" disproportionate consumption, based on their replies to questions on monthly cannabis use, (see Appendix) to estimate the percentage of all cannabis used, by all respondents, which was of that variety.

Where unweighted figures for any variety are higher than weighted, those reporting some use of that variety seem to be the less heavy users of cannabis in general.

These "Market Shares" represent money spent on drugs for each region. They were based on the aggregate monthly spending on all drugs, divided by the sum of spending on particular drugs by all respondents in that region.

The users were asked to 'rate' each variety of cannabis, where used, from 0-10, with 0 the most negative rating and 10 the most positive. (More details of these respondents" subjective attitudes to drugs will be published elsewhere). The ratings did not appear to have direct impact on market shares. They were highest for "skunk", which had the second largest market share despite being the most expensive variety. Ratings were low for home grown, and high for Lebanese, which had very similar low market shares.

The most commonly used varieties of cannabis were dark Moroccan 'soap', and "skunk". When the figures are weighted, dark "soap-bar" Moroccan accounted for 36.46% of the total reported market, and "skunk" for 27.64%. Unweighted figures were lower, 27.88% and 19.05% respectively, so heavier users appear to have had higher proportions of both in their intake. Lebanese was the least common. (Table 9)

Home grown was 2.84% of the market, weighted, but 10.55% unweighted, indicating that less frequent users reported higher percentages of use. Those who use more are more likely to grow some of their own, according to our 1994 study, but some proportion would be growing and using skunk rather than plain homegrown leaf, and some of the occasional consumers will have had homegrown given to them.

The market shares of different varieties varied between regions. Moroccan (both types combined) varied between 18.88% of the London market and 52.72% of the Midlands'. However, where regional samples were small, percentages may have been distorted by individuals or small groups. In Scotland, for instance, Lebanese was 10.66% of use, weighted, which was three times more than anywhere else. It was only 5% of use unweighted, which suggests that some of the heavier consumers reported using it as a relatively high proportion of their consumption.

The proportions of Moroccan and skunk used nationally had increased since our 1994 study, by 8.64% and 9.64% respectively, while all other varieties had decreased. This varied regionally - Moroccan use had declined by 7% in London, skunk use declined by 24.49% in Scotland. Percentage use of African bush was lower everywhere except in the Midlands, where it rose by 7.22%.

The most striking finding from this survey is the decline in market share of imported herbal cannabis, the increase of "skunk" consumption (particularly when weighted by use), and the increasing dominance of Moroccan in the resin market (it is estimated that Morocco produces 1500 to 3000 metric tons of cannabis resin per year representing 60% of the UK supply). The decline in imported herbal cannabis consumption is also reflected in recent Customs seizure statistics.

Market Shares (weighted/unweighted)

The differences between weighted and unweighted (weighted by raw ratio) ratios for market shares are an indication of the amount of cannabis used by adherents of any particular variety. The high ratio for "skunk" indicates that skunk users would, on average, smoke roughly 1.45 times the average of other users, consistent with heavier users minimising the cost of their supply by growing their own, or with consumption among growers who are otherwise "normal" users rising when use is no longer restricted by price and availability. The low ratio for "Lebanese" suggests this variety to be more commonly reported by light or casual users, and may well refer to remembered consumption in the more distant past.

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