Pubdate: Fri, 14 Mar 2014
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: 2014 The Scotsman Publications Ltd
Author: Fredrik Dahl


THE global fight against narcotics has suffered serious setbacks, 
including record opium cultivation in Afghanistan and a surge of 
trafficking-related violence in Central America, according to the 
United Nations anti-drugs chief.

At the opening of an international meeting on the issue, Yury Fedotov 
also noted some successes, such as a shrinking cocaine market.

There are around 27 million "problem drug users" in the world and 
about 210,000 narcotics-related deaths a year, a United Nations 
Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) document prepared for the conference said.

There is disagreement on how to best counter the problem, with 
critics questioning the "war on drugs" and advocating partial 
legalisation to try to undermine trafficking by criminal gangs.

In a move that will be closely watched by other nations discussing 
drug liberalisation, Uruguay's parliament in December approved a bill 
to legalise and regulate the sale and production of marijuana - the 
first country to take such a step.

In the US, Washington and Colorado recently legalised the sale of 
cannabis under licence, although federal law has not changed.

Mr Fedotov said the total area under coca cultivation fell by 26 per 
cent between 2007 and 2011. Cocaine use in North America, the largest 
market, has fallen sharply, UNODC figures show.
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