Thursday, June 24, 2010

UN World Drug Report 2010

If you want a sense of how difficult the "drug war" is, take a look at the UN's World Drug Report 2010.  It makes a game effort at optimism, but the numbers are a vivid reminder of how high demand is and how high potential profits are.  For example:

Since the 1960s, and in a context of rapid and deep socioeconomic changes throughout the world, the international drug control system has succeeded in containing the spread of annual illicit drug use to around 200 million people, or 5% of the world population aged 15-64.

Can this really be considered a "glass half full" situation?  That only 200 million people use drugs?  As the report also notes, this amounts to a global $88 billion industry (that just deserves to be in bold).  And profit prompts innovation:

According to the scientific studies conducted by the DEA, in the last decade, there has been an increase in the efficiency of the clandestine laboratories employed in the three Andean countries, which has resulted in different conversion factors from leaves to cocaine. These changes are mainly due to the higher percentage of traffickers using more efficient methods to extract the cocaine.

I like optimism as much as anyone, but I don't see much to celebrate in this report.


Steven Taylor 5:07 PM  

It's worse: the staggering $88 billion figure it just for cocaine. Opiates add $65 billion (see p. 33). And, of course, there's cannabis, meth, ecstasy, etc.

The numbers are amazing, to be sure.

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