Thursday, June 25, 2009

Global use of cocaine, heroine and cannabis declines: UN

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Global use of cocaine, heroine and cannabis fell last year while production of stimulants rose, the UN drugs chief said Wednesday as he presented the United Nations' annual report on drugs.

"The embedded story in this report is that the markets for the three main drugs -- cocaine, heroin and cannabis -- are on a downward trend," UN Office on Drugs and Crime executive director Antonio Maria Costa told reporters in Washington.

But production of man-made amphetamine-type stimulants -- including methamphetamines and ecstasy, which is harder to track -- was up, the report showed.

"What was once a cottage industry has become big business," it noted, citing industrial-sized laboratories in southeast Asia, especially in the Greater Mekong region.

Global drug watchdogs cannot spot cultivation sites of amphetamines by satellite, as they can of cannabis, heroin or cocaine, because the synthetic drugs that can be produced anywhere from a tiny garage to a sprawling factory, said Costa.

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