The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) recently published a study about the trends and developments of illegal substances in the European Union. According to the research, one in 4 EU citizen have already tried drugs.
The European drug market is already one of the biggest in the world, however, the demand for illegal substances is growing strongly, the study says. The highest rise is with cannabis, being the most popular drug in the region with 83.2 million users (right ahead cocaine with 17.1 million users). Marijuana, being one of the most harmless illegal substances raises questions amongst EU governments whether to legalize it or decriminalize it. It would be important to deal with this problem since within the EU 50% of the drug seizures are in the case of herbal cannabis (453,000 and 139 tons), 24% cannabis resin (229,000 and 574 tons) and 3% cannabis plants. This means marijuana equals 77% of all the drug busts in the EU.
Another important issue that needs to be taken care of is high-risk opioid users, whose estimated number could go up to 1.3 million users. According to the study, 82% of the fatal overdoses in the European Union is associated with opioid use. About 640,000 opioid users received substitution treatment in the year of 2014. According to the EMCDDA report, one of the most dangerous drugs are synthetic opioids, which have already caused several overdoses that resulted in death.
The drug report also mentions the presence of dark net markets as an important factor. According to EMCDDA’s report, the dark web could be considered as a threat since of its simplicity and encryption technology, however, the study also claims that dark net marketplaces have their good sides too: ”online platforms also provide possibilities for prevention, treatment and harm reduction activities, though these are often overlooked.” The report goes by:
”The supply of drugs through online sources appears to be growing, albeit from a low base, and the potential for expansion of online drug supply appears considerable. Moreover, the rapid rate of change in this area, driven by increasing use of the internet, the deployment of new payment technologies, innovations in encryption and new options for the creation of distributed online marketplaces, makes it difficult for societal responses to keep pace. How best to respond to this growing dark cloud on the horizon and how best to exploit the opportunities that this medium offers for reducing drug problems are likely to represent questions of critical importance for the future European policy agenda.”