The United Nations yesterday released its annual World Drug Report, which, as its title suggests, gives an exhaustive rundown on the state of illicit drug use worldwide. There's a lot of data to work on, and the thousands of news outlets reporting on it found some pretty disparate angles. Some of those were in line with the U.N.'s own summary of what its most important findings were, including a global decline in opium, cocaine, and cannabis production, the rise of synthetic drugs in Asia, and the gradual slump of Afghan-grown opium for Myanmar's. But the angles taken by other, often smaller news outlets give us a much more detailed look at the report as a whole, and by extension, the global state of illicit drugs.
Columbia is no longer the king of cocaine: Bloomberg picked up the angle that Peru is set to edge out its northern neighbor in coca production: "Peru's production of coca, the plant used to make cocaine, has risen for a fifth straight year, putting pressure on incoming President Ollanta Humala to step up eradication efforts he has criticized."
Drug production is becoming more local: The Economist found that increasingly localized drug micro-economies were flourishing because of their relative low risk in terms of transporting narcotics over international borders.
Cannabis plants, by far the world’s most popular illegal drug, are as happy in a Western window box as on a Himalayan hillside. Likewise, synthetic drugs—amphetamine, methamphetamine and ecstasy, plus a growing list of new potions—can be cooked up in factories anywhere (and increasingly with harmless ingredients: researchers at Harvard University are trying to make lysergic acid, the basis for LSD and many other pharmaceuticals, from baker’s yeast).
Drugs are deadlier in Britain: At The Telegraph, Stephen Adams latched onto the fact that Britain had more drug deaths than any Western European country, and one of the highest rates of drug-related deaths in the world.
Drug deaths in Britain accounted for one in 10 across Europe, the figures indicated.
Most of these deaths were caused by opioids, followed by sedatives, cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and ecstasy.
Britain has the sixth-highest number of drug-related deaths globally, according to the UNODC annual report, after the United States, the Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Iran and Mexico.
Europe's most expensive cocaine is in Norway: Another Economist reporter found that the cheapest cocaine was in Britain and the most expensive in Norway. There's even a handy chart.
India buys the most heroin of any South Asian nation: The Indian NDTV took this angle, which makes sense because it's a local outlet, but it's kind of an obvious claim, what with India being by far the biggest South Asian nation.
Canada leads the way in producing synthetic drugs: In fact, it seems this is where a lot of ecstasy used in the United States comes from. Pretty interesting when you think of which border we normally think of as a narcotics input.
With traditional narcotics down, legal highs are on the rise. The Independent nabbed this nugget from the report, noting that "designer drugs" fall through enforcement loopholes.
Opium production dropped by almost 40 per cent last year and the production of cocaine around the world has fallen by a sixth since 2007, according to the international body. However, the reduction in illicit drug-use can be partly explained by the "substitution" of illegal drugs for "unregulated" and "untested" stimulants, which experts warn could be just as dangerous to public health.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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