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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Designer drugs are being produced faster and in growing numbers, according to the annual report of the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) for 2010, launched today in Vienna.

    In Europe, 16 new designer drugs are being monitored, while in Japan the figure is 51. "Given the health risks posed by the abuse of designer drugs, we urge Governments to adopt national control measures to prevent the manufacture of, trafficking in and abuse of these substances," says Hamid Ghodse, President of the Board.

    The report explores how corruption undermines the fight against drug trafficking and compromises the very authorities established to control and suppress such trafficking - police and justice officials often facing tremendous pressure from organized crime when working to prevent drug trafficking - and underscores the need to accord greater priority to the prevention of corruption.

    According to a special supplement to the report, licit drugs needed for medical treatment are not readily available in all parts of the world. More than 80 per cent of the world's population has insufficient or no access to pain relief drugs and millions suffer unnecessary pain as a result. The Board urges Governments to take action, inter alia, to collect statistical data on licit drug requirements, adapt national legislation and improve education and training.

    The report also provides a breakdown of drug production, trafficking and abuse patterns in the various regions of the world. Western Europe represents the world's largest market for heroin, approximately 60 per cent of regional consumption being accounted for by four countries in that subregion (France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom). The report indicates that cocaine smuggling through Africa to Europe is on the rise again. After a decline in cocaine trafficking in the region in the past two years, trafficking has resumed, as evidenced by several large-scale seizures in 2010.

    The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is an independent body responsible for monitoring implementation of the international drug control conventions. It was established in 1968 in accordance with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961. The annual reports of INCB, based on the Board's activities, provide a comprehensive review of the drug control situation in various parts of the world. As an impartial body, INCB tries to identify and predict dangerous trends and recommends measures to be taken in response to those trends.

    2 March 2011

    NOTE: Report uploaded to Archives HERE


  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Designer drug bans urged by UN agency
    Bans on whole classes of substances should be adopted to curb rapid spread of designer drugs, report says

    The development of designer drugs is escalating so fast that national governments need to adopt generic bans on new substances, the UN's drug agency has urged.

    The International Narcotics Control Board reports that illicit opium production in Afghanistan halved during last year to 3,600 tonnes – due to a fungus affecting the poppy plants, rather than efforts of American or British troops.

    The impact on heroin supplies in Britain and western Europe will be small because existing opium stocks total about 12,000 tonnes, equal to 2.5 years' worth of global demand.

    The board's annual report, published on Wednesday, confirms that cocaine use is continuing to rise in Britain, where it has replaced amphetamines and ecstasy in popularity. Britain is increasingly being used as a gateway to Europe by cocaine smugglers alongside more traditional routes through Spain and the Netherlands.

    The Vienna-based drugs agency also highlights the disparity in access to legal pain relief drugs in the developing and developed worlds. "Ninety per cent of the licit drugs are consumed by 10% of the world's population in the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and some European countries," said Hamid Ghodse, the board's president.

    Ghodse, who is professor in international drug trafficking at St George's, University of London, said it should be recognised that many countries in Africa, Asia and parts of South America had little or no access to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical purposes.

    The agency says that the use of designer drugs such as mephedrone has spread rapidly via the internet since they appeared in 2007, with seizures reported last year across North America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, as well as in Europe.

    The board defines designer drugs as those manufactured with a minor modification to the molecular structure of an existing substance to create a new one that imitates the effects of ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine but is not banned by existing controls.

    Britain, along with Ireland and Poland, has been among the first to introduce legislation temporarily banning designer drugs as soon as they appear, subject to a proper examination of their health effects.

    But the board wants countries to go further and adopt American-style legislation imposing generic bans to control entire groups of such substances. It recommends that governments should be preparing to ban replacements for mephedrone. The report notes that Japan has so far banned 51 separate designer drugs and Belarus, Brazil and Finland have also taken action.

    The UN agency says that last year's 50% drop in opium production in Afghanistan has been accompanied by an explosion in prices, with a kilogram of dry opium being sold for $207 (£127) compared with $78 in 2009. It predicts that this may lead Afghan farmers to grow even more opium poppy in 2011.

    Western Europe, including Britain, is the world's largest heroin market, accounting for almost half the world's production. The report notes that the increasing importance of Britain to cocaine smugglers reflects the decline in the past three years in the smuggling route from South America to west Africa and then into southern Europe.

    Alan Travis, home affairs editor
    Wednesday 2 March 2011

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