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Scrutiny
  
Over a Century of Futility?
Even way back in 1909, World Leaders had Gathered and Resolved to counter The Illegal drug trade. Unfortunately, The Evil still persists, and Interestingly has Everything to do with Affluence
03/03/2011

Against persistentent global efforts to control the illegal drug trade, both production and consumption of dangerous narcotics like marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and heroin are ever increasing. Though the issue has captured substantial space in the global media and celluloid, it has been particularly tough to combat. With global trade estimated between $400-600 billion, drug intake is a high turnover global phenomenon. However, there isn’t much change in the pecking order. Afghanistan remained the world’s largest supplier of opium/heroin with over 85% in 2009 (79% in 1999).

Around 4.8% (some 200 million) of the people around the world are drug addicts as per United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC). UN projects that around 25 million of these are serious drug users. While earlier, drug use was permeating all sections of society, now, given rising prices, drug consumption has a significant correlation with economic well-being of individuals. The major drug consuming regions are North America, Western Europe and some rich parts of Asia. North America tops the list in cocaine consumption followed by Western Europe and Asia. Africa, being the poorest, expectably ranks the lowest.

Opiate, however, is highly in use in underdeveloped and developing nations, as it is quite cheaply available. Cannabis, which can be grown and refined even in one’s backyard, happens to be popular across the globe irrespective of income levels.

As per a report by Gale Cengage learning, a world leader in e-research and educational publishing, “In general, rates of cocaine use are higher in more affluent countries.” According to World Drug Report 2010, Europe has over 1,614,000 heroin users (except Turkey & Russian Federation) and 271,000 opium users. Americas have 1,538,000 heroin users and 82,000 opium users. Total heroin consumption reached 88 metric tonnes (around 26% of global use) & opium consumption touched 95 metric tonnes in Europe. The figures are 70 and 58 metric tonnes respectively for Russian Federation. In the case of opium, some developing countries take the cake. Iran has particularly shocking figures with opium consumption at 450 metric tonnes and Pakistan & Afghanistan consume 80 metric tonnes each. India also has a high opium use at 67 metric tonnes.

A century ago, on February 26, 1909, world leaders set up an international Opium Commission to legally ban the narcotic drug trade. Nations including US, Australia & Netherlands independently imposed laws against drug use. More surprisingly, UN members in the 1998 General Assembly promised to achieve “a drug free world,” or “eliminate or significantly reduce” drug consumption by 2008. That clearly never worked. US alone arrests 1.5 million drug users and imprisons over half a million every year now. If any action has to be taken, then the same has to be right at the roots of drug production than just at the users.

By:- Akram Hoque
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