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Ban on poppy farming in Afghanistan leads to drop in opium production: UN

Ban on poppy farming in Afghanistan leads to drop in opium production: UN

Opium production has dropped significantly around the globe, thanks largely to the ban on opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, the world's leading producer, according to a new report released today by the Vienna-based United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP).

The report, Global Illicit Drug Trends 2001, states that last year, Afghanistan accounted for 70 per cent of global opium production, followed by Myanmar with 23 per cent. The report predicts that "the current ban on opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is likely to dramatically reduce opium production in 2001."

Overall, opium production dropped by 19 per cent worldwide, to about 4,700 tonnes. Global cocaine production remained more or less stable in 2000. In the absence of reliable data on cannabis cultivation, ODCCP notes a 35 per cent increase in seizures of herbal cannabis and says this points to "continued widespread production and trafficking of the drug."

In 1999, a third of all illegal drugs were seized in North America, a quarter in Western Europe, a fifth in Asia and a tenth in South America, according to the report.

On the consumption side, ODCCP estimates that in the late 1990s, 180 million people consumed illicit drugs annually. This figure includes 144 million for cannabis, 29 million for amphetamine-type stimulants, 14 million for cocaine and 13.5 million for opiates. Because some people use more than one drug, the figures are not cumulative, the agency notes.

The strongest increases were for cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants, according to the report. Cannabis abuse is generally increasing in Europe the Americas, Africa and Oceania, while decreasing in South and South-West Asia. Heroin abuse, which remained generally stable in Western Europe, increased in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South-West Asia and, to a lesser degree, some countries in East and South-East Asia.