From United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
At 10 a.m. Washington D.C. local time (EDT) today, UNODC will release the 2009 edition of its flagship publication, the World Drug Report
. A webcast of the press conference and all relevant materials can be found at http://live.unodc.org.
This year, for the first time, the World Drug Report includes special sections on the quality of drug data available to UNODC, trends in drug use
among young people and drug-related offences recorded by police. It also addresses the black market for drugs, one of the most formidable unintended consequences of drug control, and ways in which the international community can best tackle it.
Every year, the World Drug Report provides one of the most complete assessments of the international drug problem, with comprehensive information on the illicit drug situation. It provides detailed estimates and information on trends in the production, trafficking and use of opium/heroin, coca/cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants. The Report, based on data and estimates collected or prepared by Governments, UNODC and other international institutions, attempts to identify trends in the evolution of global illicit drug markets.
Through the World Drug Report, UNODC aims to enhance Member States' understanding of global illicit drug trends and increase their awareness of the need for the more systematic collection and reporting of data relating to illicit drugs.
The Report is being launched as run-up to World Drug Day on 26 June, and will be available on unodc.org.
Canada now a major exporter of methamphetamine, UN report says
From the National Post (Canada)
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has released its 2009 World Drug Report, and among the surprisingly complete picture of the global drugs trade, it appears that in recent years Canada's traffickers have come to play an alarmingly prominent role.
Among the findings in the 306-page report is that Canada and Mexico have picked up the slack in the production of methamphetamine as efforts to close meth labs in the United States since their peak in 2004 have borne fruit.
The report says "there is evidence that Canada-based Asian organized crime groups and outlaw motorcycle gangs have significantly increased the amount of methamphetamine they manufacture and export since 2003, for the US market, but also for Oceania and East and South-East Asia.
AFP reports that the production of heroin, cocaine and cannabis decreased or stabilized in 2008, but synthetic drugs like ecstasy went up.
It also found that "Canada has grown to be the most important producer of MDMA for North America, and since 2006, all ecstasy laboratories reported have been large capacity facilities operated principally by Asian organized crime groups.
The report also says that eradication efforts in the U.S. and Canada have had the perverse effect of making the marijuana crop many times as potent as it was 20 years ago, while still being the most widely available illicit drug. Serious health and psychology side effects are now as likely among marijuana users as those who use other 'harder' drugs.
Worldwide production of heroin and cocaine falling, says UN drug chief
From the Guardian
Drug use should be treated more as an illness than a crime, the head of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime said today as the body's annual report announced a worldwide decline in the production of cocaine and heroin.
The report for 2009 called for traffickers to be targeted rather than users and announced that there was a worldwide growth in synthetic drugs.
It also said the UK now had the largest number of cocaine users in western Europe, although the per capita rates were higher in Spain. The purity of the cocaine on sale in the UK has declined substantially, with less than 5% purity.
Britain had the highest number of "problem" drug users – as opposed to those who use drugs occasionally – in western Europe. The UK was also seizing more amphetamines than any other country in Europe.
Antonio Maria Costa, director of the UNODC, called for universal access to drug treatment and said: "People who take drugs need medical help, not criminal retribution."
He said that was one of the best ways of shrinking the market as people with serious drug problems provide the bulk of demand. He added that legalisation of drugs was not the answer.
According to the report, opium cultivation in Afghanistan, where 93% of the world's opium is grown, declined by 19% in 2008. Colombia, which produces half of the world's cocaine, saw an 18% decline in cultivation and a 28% decline in production compared with 2007.
Global coca production, at 845 tonnes, was said to be at a five-year low, despite some increases in cultivation in Peru and Bolivia.
Seismic shifts were taking place in the $50bn (£30bn) global cocaine market, the report suggested. "Purity levels and seizures [in main consumer countries] are down, prices are up, and consumption patterns are in flux. In Central America, cartels are fighting for a shrinking market."
Cannabis remains the most widely cultivated and used drug around the world. Data also shows that it is more harmful than commonly believed, said the report. The average THC content (the harmful component) of hydroponic marijuana in North America almost doubled in the past decade, which led to a big rise in the number of people seeking treatment.
The world's biggest markets for cannabis were North America, Oceania and western Europe. For cocaine, North America and some parts of western Europe remain the main markets.
While the use of amphetamines, methamphetamine and ecstasy has levelled off in developed countries, production and consumption may be growing elsewhere in the world. Industrial-sized laboratories in south-east Asia, it added, were producing massive quantities of methamphetamine tablets, crystal meth and other substances such as Ketamine.
The report concluded that illegal drug seizures were up in 2007 and all drug seizure totals were close to all-time highs; about 18 to 28 million people are heavy drug users who are likely to be "physically or psychologically dependent"; opiates and cocaine have about 16 to 21 million users each; between 11 and 21 million people inject drugs; between 16 and 51 million were amphetamine-group users in the past year; and between 12 and 23 million took ecstasy.