Millions of Europeans regularly use illegal drugs
The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), together with Europol, has released a report on drug use by the EU population. As follows from the document, “EU residents spend at least € 30 billion a year on the purchase of drugs. This market is the largest source of organized crime revenue in the European Union. ” Why Europeans get addicted to illegal drugs – Izvestia understood.
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Speaking about consumer preferences, the authors of the report emphasize that cannabis is most in demand in its two varieties – marijuana and hashish. It accounts for € 11.6 billion, or 39% of the total turnover of the legal and illegal drug market. According to the study, about 25 million European citizens between the ages of 15 and 64 used cannabis and marijuana last year.
The text also notes that “although demand for cannabis in the form of marijuana or hash is still prevailing, sales of products manufactured with the addition of this drug, such as drugs that are used for therapeutic purposes or drugs containing cannabidiol (CBD) or low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). ”
The main gates through which drugs come to Europe from Asia, Africa and America, Spain and the Netherlands are recognized in the report. Moreover, the first of these countries prefers the means produced from hemp – as a rule, they are delivered by sea from Morocco. The Netherlands focused on cocaine and heroin. Such specialization cannot be considered once and for all established: both types of drugs containing drugs come to either state, but in much smaller volumes than the “priority ones”. It is not surprising that both countries are leaders in the number of drugs seized by law enforcement agencies.
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After cannabis, the next most consumed drug in Europe is cocaine with an estimated turnover of € 9.1 billion per year and 4 million European consumers. Its consumption is still concentrated in the south and west of the continent, but it seems that the market is expanding: the record growth in powder production recorded in Latin America leads to increased traffic to Europe.
They import it mainly through all the same Spain and the Netherlands plus Belgium. The “powder” is in greatest demand in the UK. “Britain loves cocaine. They consume more cocaine here than anywhere else in Europe, ”says EMCDDA specialist Joao Matias. In the UK, in 2017–2018, 2.6% of the population aged 16–59 years took cocaine powder (unlike crack cocaine, a more potent version of the drug that took 0.1% of the population in the same period) compared to 2 , 4% in 2013-2014, according to the British Interior Ministry.
Experts suggest that things will get worse. 6% of 16-24-year-old Britons have tried white death. “It is also likely that the figures from the Home Office, which often exclude students, prisoners and the homeless, underestimate the use of cocaine, as these groups are typically characterized by illegal drug use above average,” The Guardian said.
With a 25 percent market share and € 7.4 billion in annual expenses, heroin and other opiates are third in the list of drugs consumed by Europeans (1.3 million consumers in the EU last year). Most opiates enter the EU through the Balkans, although Europol indicates an increase in shipments from the south, mainly through the Suez Canal. The market value for amphetamines, methamphetamines and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, also known as ecstasy) in the EU is estimated at approximately € 1.5 billion per year (5% of the total). About 1.7 million Europeans took amphetamines or methamphetamines last year, and 2.6 million consumed MDMA.
The production of these substances, the authors of the report emphasizes, is organized on an industrial scale within the European Union and is focused both on domestic consumption and export. New technologies increase the purity of the product and reduce their prices.
Price reduction is one of the reasons for the increase in the number of potion consumers. Indirect evidence of this growth is information from a similar report for 2018. It is reported that “in 2016, 30.3 thousand people turned to drug treatment specialists, which is 20% more than in 2014.”
According to the EMCDDA report for 2018, at least 92 million citizens of EU countries (56 million men and 36 million women) aged 15 to 64 years “at least once in their life tried illegal drugs.
Footprints lead down the drain
The results of the study contained in the report on the content of drug residues in the wastewater of European cities representing 26 EU countries are also curious. Between 2015 and 2017, the number of traces of cocaine in sewers increased in 26 of the 31 cities where measurements were taken.
The highest levels of cocaine traces were recorded in Barcelona – 965 mg per 1000 inhabitants per day. The top three also included Zurich (934.4 mg) and Antwerp (822.9 mg). The following places are St. Gallen, Geneva, Bristol, Amsterdam, Basel, Bern and Dortmund. The lowest level of traces of the “powder” was noted in Turku (4.7 mg). If, on the basis of information on the content of drugs in urban wastewater, conclusions are drawn about countries as a whole, the highest concentration of cocaine residues is noted in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, and there are very few drug traces in countries of Eastern Europe.
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Introducing the 2019 report, Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said that “organized crime groups are quickly exploring new opportunities for financial gain and are increasingly using technological and logistics innovations to transport products across international borders. At the same time, drugs containing drug stimulants are becoming more accessible to European consumers every year, often through social networks and the Internet. Today’s report proves once again that the illicit drug market continues to pose a threat to the health and safety of our citizens. “We will continue to work tirelessly with our Member States and international partners to strengthen our fight against drugs in all its aspects for the benefit of our youth, our citizens, our society.”
It is difficult to say how effectively European drug fighters will carry out their activities, because the authorities of the countries where the bulk of the “dope” delivered to Europe is produced are working in exactly the other direction. So, on January 30, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at a meeting with reporters said that “the war against drugs is no longer being waged, we want peace.” Later, when leading media outlets spread the phrase of the Mexican leader around the world, Obrador tried to explain that he was misunderstood: he meant that military operations would not be carried out against drug cartels, and the National will deal with the manufacturers, carriers and distributors guard.
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In Colombia, which accounts for 70% of global cocaine production, they have gone much further. In June of this year, ex-president of the country, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Juan Manuel Sanchez said that “the war against drugs in Colombia was fought for 40 years and was not won by anyone”, from which fact it made a non-trivial conclusion about the need for universal legalization of drugs. The ex-president of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo, and the ex-president of Switzerland, Ruth Dreyfus, signed their appeal. The message said that “only from 2011 to 2015, mortality from drug use increased by 145%.” And this, as the Spanish publication El Confidencial comments, “despite the fact that the United States spends $ 100 billion annually on the fight against drug mafia.”
Serious alarm among sensible politicians and ordinary people is caused by the fact that some countries are already moving along the path of legalizing the trade in narcotic drugs. In Colombia, it is permissible for any adult to carry 1 g of cocaine, in Mexico 0.5 g, in Peru 2 g. Recreational use of marijuana is legalized in Canada and in 11 states and the US District of Columbia. In another 15 states, possession of cannabis is no longer a criminal offense; many other countries, including Austria, Switzerland, and Portugal, also changed their legislation in the same way.
How much the rest of the Western world will be able to hold out is still in question.