A UN annual drug report concluded on Thursday that while global markets for cocaine, heroin and cannabis declined or remained stable, the production and use of new synthetic drugs have increased.
“The gains we have witnessed in the traditional drugs markets are being offset by a fashion for synthetic ‘designer drugs’ mimicking illegal substances. The global drug threat has not diminished,” Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told a press conference launching the report “World Drug Report 2011.”
The report said some 210 million people, or 4.8 per cent of the global population aged between 15 and 64, took illicit substances at least once in the previous year.
The rate of overall drug use, including problem drug use, he said, remained stable. However, he added, demand soared for substances not under international control, such as piperazine and cathinone.
Speaking at the report’s official launch, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the report “paints a sobering picture of the threat posed by illegal drugs,” adding that “traffickers break more than the law. They break the human spirit. They fuel terrorism and insurgency. They rob societies of peace.”
“Drug-dependent people should not be treated with discrimination; they should be treated by medical experts and counselors,” he urged. “Drug addiction is a disease, not a crime,” he insisted.
The report also concluded that the US cocaine market has witnessed a massive decline in recent years, but continues to be the world’s largest cocaine market, that the cannabis remains by far the most widely produced and consumed illicit substance globally, that over the past decade, cocaine consumption in Europe has doubled, and that market prices for cocaine have dropped appreciably since the mid-1990s.
The Security Council is scheduled to examine the report today Friday.