The regular appearance of new drugs, some of them sold through the Internet as a legal substance, is the “challenge of the decade” facing Europe, warned the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
In its annual report, released Tuesday in Lisbon, the Observatory estimates that cocaine could “have reached a plateau,” while the “cannabis is declining among young people.” Meanwhile, consumption of synthetic drugs such as ecstasy and amphetamines, is “generally stable or declining.”
In terms of new substances, 39 of them were identified earlier this year, after the 41 reported to the EMCDDA and Europol in 2010. Currently, more than 150 substances are monitored by the European early warning system (EWS).
“The rapid emergence of new psychoactive substances are not controlled – often sold under the name ‘euphoric legales’ – is a growing challenge in Europe and internationally,” says the EMCDDA.
Given this situation, “the drug policy and European responses must be set now to meet the challenges of the next decade,” said Wolfgang Götz, EMCDDA Director.
The main difficulty to stop that progress lies in the “increased interaction” between the markets of “legal highs” and illegal substances, according to the report, highlighting the emergence of a record number of 600 online shops selling psychoactive substances.
The EMCDDA cites, among others, mephedrone, a synthetic drug upcoming ecstasy or cocaine, both sold online as “legal highs” and “through illegal networks.”
Most of the new substances are synthetic cannabinoids, cathinone (Khat) and derivatives of synthetic drugs such as ketamine or phencyclidine.
“A picture of the world in which we live, the drug market evolves rapidly and increasingly globalized, ready to adapt to threats and opportunities,” said Götz.
In contrast, the situation is slightly more optimistic with regard to cocaine and cannabis.
“Some evidence suggests that positiovos cocaine use might have reached a plateau, and the use of cannabis is losing ground among young people,” says the report.
These “clues” is the fact that countries like Denmark, Spain, Italy and Great Britain (four of the five countries where consumption levels are the highest in Europe) showed “a decline in cocaine use in the During the last twelve months among young adults (15 to 34 years) “, a trend also observed in Canada and the United States.
The economic crisis currently affecting many European countries may partially explain the decline, given the relatively high cost of cocaine (50 to 80 euros a gram), says the EMCDDA.
In parallel, the number of seizures of cocaine, constantly increasing, went from 56,000 in 2004 to 99,000 in 2009.
The EMCDDA indicates, moreover, that the decrease in consumption of cannabis may be linked in part to the snuff, since the two substances are often consumed together. However, cannabis remains the drug “more popular in Europe.”
In respect to amphetamines and ecstasy, the EMCDDA highlights the trend of the last five years shows a use “generally stable or in decline” among people aged between 15 and 34.
- Rise in use of cocaine has peaked, says EU drug agency report (guardian.co.uk)