The proportion of Sweden's adult population who used the drug in the previous 12 months rose from 2.5 percent in 2013 to 3.6 percent in 2017, according to the study carried out by the Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs (Centralförbundet för alkohol- och narkotikaupplysning, also called CAN).
Researchers behind the study described this as “quite a large increase”, and the figure for 2017 represented the highest proportion of cannabis users ever recorded in Sweden.
“One man in every 20 (4.5 percent) and one woman in every 40 (2.5 percent) said in 2017 that they had used cannabis during the last 12 months. In 2013, the proportions were 1.5 percent and 3.5 percent,” said Mats Ramstedt, head of research at CAN and one of the report's authors.
“Among women, the increase is most evident among those under 50, and among men, in the 30-49 age group. Men in the 17-29 age group are the group that used cannabis most frequently during the last year: 12. 3 percent,” Ramstedt explained.
Sweden has a long-standing zero-tolerance approach to drug use, which means no legal distinction is made between 'hard' and 'soft' drugs. The country has typically had one of the lowest cannabis consumption rates in Europe, though since the turn of the century the rate has risen and it is still the most common drug in Sweden.
And in 2017, an historic decision from the country's Medical Products Agency (Läkemedelsverket) allowed the first prescriptions of marijuana for medical purposes in the country.