Wednesday, June 29, 2005
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Global drug use is on the rise with cannabis leading the way, but synthetic narcotics such as amphetamines and ecstasy are declining, a UN report said Wednesday.
About 200 million people around the world - or five per cent of the global population between the ages of 15 and 64 - use drugs at least once a year, the 2005 World Drug Report said, analyzing figures from 2003 and 2004. The number of drug users had increased by 15 million from last year's report.
In Afghanistan - where a majority of the world's opiates are produced - the amount of land dedicated to growing opium poppy increased to record highs, but bad weather ruined much of the crops so that the global increase in opium production stayed at two per cent, the report said.
The overall retail value of illegal drugs sold worldwide in 2003 was about $322 billion US - higher than the individual gross domestic product for 88 per cent of the world's countries, the report said.
Marijuana and hashish remain by far the most popular street drugs. Almost 161 million people had used cannabis at least once, up from about 150 million a year earlier. The use of cannabis is likely to grow in coming years, said the report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
However, the use of amphetamines and ecstasy dropped, mainly in the United States and Southeast Asia, the report said.
Amphetamines was still the world's second most popular drug, with 26 million users, while there were an estimated 7.9 million ecstasy users worldwide.
The report said the main "problem drugs" globally for people seeking help at treatment centres are cocaine and opiates, such as heroin. In Europe and Asia, 62 per cent of those seeking help for drug abuse in 2003 were addicted to opiates, while 59 per cent of all drug treatment in South America was for cocaine. Cannabis was the most common drug for people seeking treatment in Africa and North America.
UNODC 2005 World Drug Report