Illicit drug use, trafficking through West Africa still high – report

CocaineGhana recorded the seizure of 901 kg of cocaine in 2013, against 290 kg reported by Nigeria and 20 kg by Côte d’Ivoire, according to the World Drug Report 2015.

This occurred amidst the lowest levels of coca bush cultivation since the mid-1980s: global coca cultivation fell from 60,400 hectares in 2012 to 49,800 hectares.

The report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), says Africa is a significant trans-shipment zone for cocaine trafficking to Europe, and the southern, west and central regions of the continent are estimated to have a high prevalence of cocaine use (about 0.7 per cent annual prevalence in 2013).

The report which provides a global overview of supply and demand for drugs and new psychoactive substances, says there has been “little change” in the overall global production, use and health consequences of illicit drugs.

Global opium poppy cultivation however reached its highest mark in 2014 since the late 1930s.

The report says that even though innovation in cultivation techniques and equipment have increased the capacity of cannabis growers to avoid detection by law enforcement, more cannabis was seized in 2013 around the world: 1,416 tons of cannabis resin and 5,764 tons of herbal cannabis.

The report cites Africa, particularly West and Central sub-regions, as areas having high use of cannabis; an estimated 12.4 per cent of 15 to 64 year-olds in West and Central Africa use cannabis, against the continental average of 7.5 per cent and global average of 3.9 per cent.

The UNODC estimates that 246 million people used an illicit drug in 2013, representing an increase of 3 million from the previous year.

It however says illicit drug use is stable and the increase is attributed to global population growth.

Meanwhile, only one out of six illicit drug users has access to treatment and there were an estimated 187,100 drug-related deaths in 2013.

By Emmanuel Odonkor

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