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Scope and Scale of the drug issue...
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:50 pm    Post subject: Scope and Scale of the drug issue... Reply with quote

North America holds the dubious distinction of hosting the world's largest illicit drug market. Marked by high levels of illicit drug production, manufacture, trade and consumption, the scope of the problem is highlighted by the 70 percent seizure rate of global cannabis and ecstasy, as well as the 44 percent seizure rate of methamphetamine all occurred in North America. According to the most recent international narcotics report, 99 percent of all methamphetamine laboratories detected and dismantled worldwide, were found in North America. In terms of lives, 45,000 people die of non-violent drug related causes annually. The economic cost of illicit drug use in the United States alone was pegged in 2007 in excess of $193 billion. In the United States cannabis is the most widely produced and distributed drug. Mexico remains a major source of much of the cannabis found in the U.S. Despite the best efforts of law enforcement agencies who seized more than 2,248 tons of the drug in 2010, their increased vigilance has been matched or exceeded by the efforts of narcotics groups whose growing operations increase in seize and sophistication at a rapid pace. In comparison 1,900 tons of cannabis were seized in the United States in 2010.

Coincidentally cocaine seizures have declined by 43 per cent between 2005 and 2010. Authorities attribute this decline to
a decrease in prevalence for the drug. There are a number of factors which are major contributors to these figures including increased efforts in the cultivation of opium poppy which increased to the point where Mexico now accounts for 9 percent of the global total. The DEA attributes 58 per cent of the total heroin seized in the United States with an origin of Columbia whereas Mexican sources were responsible for 39 per cent of the total seized. That isn't to say that the drugs seized weren't sourced from other locations but simply that those linked to the seized drugs were affiliated with Mexican based operations. Another factor in the decline of cocaine seizures has been a shift to psychotropic drugs such as ecstasy. MDMA or ecstasy is considered a synthetic drug which are highly popular with large scale traffickers due to their potency and profit generating ability.

In addition to MDMA, JWH-122 (a synthetic cannabinoid), methaqualone (Mandrax), methcathinone and methamphetamine are widely abused in South Africa in addition to Catha edulis (Khat) an unregulated substance cultivated in a number of East African countries. Africa is one of the few regions where cocaine use is on the rise. There is also a growing heroin market that is taking advantage of the political instability and change in Libya and Egypt.

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