Drug Users Around the World Are Buying Local

The World
How It Works
June 26 2014 4:21 PM

Drug Users Around the World Are Buying Local

Mvd6560371
Mexican soldiers stand amid poppy flowers and marijuana plants during an operation at Petatlan hills in Guerrero state, Mexico, on Aug. 28, 2013.

Photo by Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime released its annual World Drug Report today, in honor of International Anti-Drug Day. (As German Lopez of Vox notes, this day has in the past been used as a pretext for governments to unveil draconian anti-drug measures.)

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

The big headline of this year’s report is a notable increase in opium production in Afghanistan and Myanmar, but overall the rate of drug use seems pretty stable. The other big trends are that global cocaine supply is falling, users are switching from heroin to synthetic opium, and marijuana use is down globally but up in North America. (The report’s data comes from before the recent legalization measures in Colorado, Washington, and Uruguay.)

Advertisement

Another big trend seems to be a shift from imported drugs to domestically produced substances in several regions. The report notes that in Europe, “cannabis herb produced locally or regionally now gaining ground over cannabis resin, largely sourced from Morocco, which previously was the dominant cannabis substance” on the continent.

When it comes to cocaine, use has fallen in North America likely due a lack of supply. Supply’s steady in Europe, but demand has fallen. The main area where cocaine is expanding in South America, where it is almost exclusively produced. Also, “users in some European countries are replacing heroin with synthetic opioids.” The production of methamphetamine in the U.S. and Mexico is also increasing.

The effect of the international flow of drugs is still significant—cocaine use in Africa, for instance, is largely driven by trafficking through the continent en route from South America to Europe—but there also seems to be a trend toward drug users buying local.

Back in 2011, White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske told me “we've become much better at producing drugs in the United States,” pointing specifically at marijuana grown on public lands, meth, and prescription drug abuse. From the indications in the new UNODC report, something similar seems to be happening in Europe. 

The report seems very bearish on the trend toward legalization or decriminalization of marijuana in several countries, which makes sense given the UNODC’s overall mission. Though the report also states that “worldwide, the large majority of drug use offences are associated with cannabis” which one could argue suggest that the large majority of drug use offences should probably not even be offences.

TODAY IN SLATE

The Slatest

Ben Bradlee Dead at 93

The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.

This Scene From All The President’s Men Captures Ben Bradlee’s Genius

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.