Cocaine

The global area under coca cultivation amounted to 155,600 ha in 2011, almost unchanged from a year earlier but 14 per cent lower than in 2007 and 30 per cent less than in 2000. Estimates of the amounts of cocaine manufactured, expressed in quantities of 100 per cent pure cocaine, ranged from 776 to 1,051 tons in 2011, largely unchanged from a year earlier. The world's largest cocaine seizures (not adjusted for purity) continue to be reported from Colombia (200 tons) and the United States (94 tons). However, there has been an indication in recent years that the cocaine market has been shifting to several regions which have not been associated previously with either trafficking or use. Significant increases have been noted in Asia, Oceania and Central and South America and the Caribbean. In Central America, intensified competition in trafficking of cocaine has led to growing levels of violence.

Cocaine has long been perceived as a drug for the affluent. There is some evidence which, though inconclusive, suggests that this perception may not be entirely groundless, all other factors being equal. Nonetheless, the extent of its use is not always led by the wallet. There are examples of wealthy countries with low prevalence rates, and vice-versa.

Arguably, parts of East and South-East Asia run a higher risk of expansion of cocaine use (although from very low levels). Seizures in Hong Kong, China, rose dramatically, to almost 600 kg in 2010, and had exceeded 800 kg by 2011. This can be attributed to several factors, often linked to the glamour associated with its use and the emergence of more affluent sections of society. In the case of Latin America, in contrast, most of the increase appears to be linked to "spill-over" effects, as cocaine is widely available and relatively cheap owing to the proximity to producing countries.

In North America, seizures and prevalence have declined considerably since 2006 (with the exception of a rebound in seizures in 2011). Between 2006 and 2011, cocaine use among the general population in the United States fell by 40 per cent, which is partly linked to less production in Colombia, law enforcement intervention and inter-cartel violence.

While, earlier, North America and Central/Western Europe dominated the cocaine market, today they account for approximately one half of users globally, a reflection of the fact that use seems to have stabilized in Europe and declined in North America.

In Oceania, on the other hand, cocaine seizures reached new highs in 2010 and 2011 (1.9 and 1.8 tons, respectively, up from 290 kg in 2009). The annual prevalence rate for cocaine use in Australia for the population aged 14 years or older more than doubled from 1.0 per cent in 2004 to 2.1 per cent of the adult population in 2010; that figure is higher than the European average and exceeds the corresponding prevalence rates in the United States.

Cocaine market

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