Pubdate: Thu, 22 Nov 2007
Source: Times, The (Malta)
Copyright: 2007 Allied Newspapers Limited
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


Cocaine Use Reaches Record Levels in Europe

Opioids use in Malta is relatively high with 5.8-6.7  cases per 1,000
among people aged between 15 and 64,  the European Monitoring Centre
for Drugs and Drug  Addiction (EMCDDA) said in its 2007 report.
However,  heroin and injected drugs have become less common in  Europe
while the use of cannabis is stabilising after a  sustained period of
growth, the agency said.  "Nevertheless, positive messages are marred
by high  levels of drug-related deaths and rising cocaine use,"  said
the EMCDDA, which estimates there are up to 8,000  overdose deaths
every year - mostly linked to the  consumption of opiates like heroin.

Cannabis is the world's most commonly used illicit  drug, the report
said, and it is estimated that  "cannabis has been used at least once
(lifetime  prevalance)" by almost a quarter of those aged between  15
and 64. National figures vary from 2% to 37%, with  the lowest figures
coming from Malta, Bulgaria, and  Romania.

More Europeans are consuming cocaine than ever before  as its price
falls, with most users concentrated in  Britain and Spain, according
to the European Union drug  agency. "It is estimated that cocaine has
been used at  least once by more than 12 million Europeans,
representing almost four percent of all adults," it  said.

At least 4.5 million Europeans used cocaine last year,  up from 3.5
million in 2005. That has coincided with  record hauls of the drug in
recent years, with an  estimated 107 tonnes seized in 2005, the agency
said in  its report. "Cocaine is now, after cannabis, the second  most
commonly used illicit drug in many EU member  states and in the EU as
a whole," said the EMCDDA in  its report of the 27-nation bloc plus
Norway and  Turkey.

Adults aged between 15 and 34 in Spain and Britain are  the biggest
consumers of cocaine, whose main entry  point into the EU remains the
Iberian peninsula, with  Portugal rising in importance. Experts say
growing  demand for the drug and a strong euro have increased  the
pressure for South American drug cartels to break  through Europe's
tight borders.

The EMCDDA said that although cocaine prices had fallen  in recent
years, a gram of the white powder can still  fetch up to €120
($178) in some European  countries.

The head of the EMCDDA, Wolfgang Goetz, said in an  interview with
Reuters in September traffickers were  increasingly relying on poor
West African countries  like Guinea Bissau to store their cocaine
before  sending it to Europe's lucrative market. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake