24 June 2009 - UNODC today released the World Drug Report 2009.
The Report was launched in Washington, D.C., by UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa and the newly appointed Director of the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske. The Report shows that global markets for cocaine, opiates and cannabis are steady or in decline, while the production and use of synthetic drugs is feared to be increasing in the developing world.
The Report shows a downward trend in major drug markets. Opium cultivation in Afghanistan, where 93 per cent of the world's opium is produced, decreased by 19 per cent in 2008. Colombia, which produces half of the world's cocaine, saw a fall of 18 per cent in cultivation and a staggering 28 per cent decline in production compared to 2007. Global coca production, at 845 tons, is at a five-year low, despite some increases in cultivation in Peru and the Bolivia.
Cannabis remains the drug that is most widely cultivated and used around the world, although estimates are less precise. Data also show that it is more harmful than commonly believed. The average tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content - the harmful component - of hydroponic marijuana in North America has almost doubled in the past decade. This has major implications for health, as evidenced by a significant rise in the number of people seeking treatment.
While the use of synthetic drugs - amphetamines, methamphetamine and Ecstasy - has levelled off in developed countries, new data, though limited, suggest an increase in their use in the developing world.
The Report documents a shift in the routes used for drug trafficking. In West Africa, for instance, there has been a decrease in seizures, which appears to reflect lesser cocaine flows, following five years of rapid growth. While 41 per cent of the world's cocaine is being seized (mostly in Colombia), only one fifth (19 per cent) of all opiates are being intercepted.
The Report pays special attention to the impact of drug-related crime, and calls for stronger measures to fight such crime and for more resources for drug prevention and treatment.
It also offers several recommendations on how to improve drug control. These include universal access to drug treatment, international agreements against organized crime and greater efficiency in law enforcement.
In an effort to improve transparency and the quality of drug data, this year UNODC has introduced ranges into country-level estimates used in the World Drug Report. For many regions, and for some drugs (such as ATS and cannabis) the ranges are relatively wide since information is more limited.