Thursday 7th February, 6pm, Parkinson B.08
Foreign Policy, Drugs, National state involvement - interested? Come Join us tomorrow at Parkinson with the topic on International Narcotics Policy.
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International Narcotics Policy
As of 2015, approximately 5% of the global adult population used drugs at least once. However, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, about 29.5 million of those drug users suffer from dependence and require treatment.
Opioids however, remain the priority due to their associated risk with both fatal and non-fatal overdoses and the risk of infectious diseases such as HIV & Hepatitis C spreading through unsafe injecting practices. Opioid use accounts for 70% of the global burden of disease attributable to drug use disorders.
Whilst this is a world-wide problem, the United States accounts for approximately one quarter of the estimated of drug-related deaths worldwide. Indeed, far more people die from the misuse of opioids in the US each year than from road traffic accidents or violence. This being said, methamphetamine in particular is a large problem, particularly due to its spread throughout South-East Asia and Oceania as well as in parts of Europe.
Combatting the spread of said drugs is an ever-lasting combat, as heroin is diverted from the legal market or produced as counterfeit medicines on a large scale, made to look like fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. Moreover, the market for new psychoactive substances (NPS) more commonly mischaracterized as “LSD” and “ecstasy” has been growing at an alarming rate, with 260 NPS reported globally in 2012, but 739 as of 2016. Whilst there is a high concentration of these substances being reported in Anglo-Saxon countries, east and South-East Asia, South America and more recently South-Eastern Europe have all seen illegal importation of these substances grow substantially. Ecstasy tablets with a high MDMA content are of a particular concern in Europe, where law enforcement entities have also discovered industrial-scale MDMA manufacturing facilities.
Additionally, the drug trade has been seen to benefit some terrorist, insurgent and non-State armed groups. The Taliban have been directly linked to the taxation of illicit opiate production, manufacture and trafficking in Afghanistan; this is estimated to have generated revenues of approximately $150 million in 2016 alone. Furthermore, the involvement of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the drug trade in Colombia goes back decades, where at times they provided security for coca crops, taxed the introduction of precursor chemicals and the use of landing strips. Whilst FARC did agree to end its involvement in the drug business in 2016 along with their ceasefire, this is symptomatic of the international nature of narcotics.
There is good news however; reflecting improvements in international cooperation, law enforcement appears to be becoming increasingly effective. This is evidenced by the fact that the estimated global interception of cocaine was between 45-55% in 2015, a record level. Moreover, with the shift towards the legalization of medical cannabis in the western world, there are expectations that the power of organized crime groups is to be significantly reduced.