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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Growing Global Drug Problem

It is extremely difficult to combat the ever changing international drug trade, an expert tells CNBC.

“The drug trade is becoming truly more global,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, Senior Fellow at the Washington-based think tank the Brookings Institution. “New countries have emerged as crucial new demand places. For example Brazil and Argentina arguably now have per capita drug consumption on a par with the U.S.”

There is a “major heroin epidemic,” in Russia, she says. There are also a growing number of Krokodill (synthesized codeine) users in the region. West and East Africa are the entry points to the European drug market and beyond, she said.

Around 200,000 people die every year due to illicit drugs use and that number is expected to rise. According to the United Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), demand for drugs worldwide has not been substantially reduced. The UNDOC and the European crime-fighting agency Europol report that the annual global drugs trade is worth around $435 billion a year, $84 billion for the cocaine trade.

In June, the UNDOC released a report that found that there is an increasing popularity of designer drugs. New synthetic drugs hitting the market are on the rise by more than 50 percent in less than three years, the report states.

“I expect we’re going to see a further breaking of the consensus over drugs with more governments shifting direction to the stance taken by some Latin American governments to decriminalize drug use,” said Ann Fordham, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Consortium. “Other governments, however, such as Russia and China, will continue with their hard-line, zero-tolerance policies.”

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