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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

Latest on European drug markets

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New online resource from European Centre for Monitoring Drugs and Drug Abuse provides excellent concise overview of €24billion European drug markets.

Comprehensive overview

Earlier this month (11 January 2017) the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) published an online poster summarising  the second comprehensive overview of illicit drug markets in the European Union undertaken in partnership with Europol.

The report considers the impacts of the drug market on wider society and reviews the markets for cannabis, heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA and new psychoactive substances. It also provides concrete action points to inform policy development at EU and national level.

This post reproduces some of the key images from this poster to give readers a quick primer in the latest developments in the €24billion European drug market.

Ramifications

Drug markets have wide-ranging and varied impacts; linking to wider criminality and having negative effects on the licit economy, government institutions and society more generally. Drugs are big business: key concerns for most participants are maximising profits, ensuring sustainability and maintaining competitive advantage, while minimising risk.

Understanding how they operate can identify opportunities to intervene and damage their operations. Key influences on new developments in the markets and how the criminals involved operate are:

  1. Globalisation — this simultaneously facilitates drug supply, by generally improving its efficiency and multiplying opportunities for trafficking, while hampering drug supply reduction activities
  2. Technological developments and the Internet — these not only provide new ways to access customers and suppliers but also opportunities to enhance the efficiency and security of off-line criminal activities

Cannabis, Cocaine, Heroin, (Meth)Amphetamine & MDMA

The report provides detailed information on the different markets relating to different substances. As you can see the markets in cannabis, heroin and cocaine comprise 90% of the total market:

New Psychoactive Substances

The report highlights a number of  key issues including:

  • The continuing increased in popularity and availability of NPS and development of new substances
  • Production and distribution is globalised
  • The key role of the internet
  • Sophisticated marketing strategies
  • Significant health risks of using NPS

The graphic below shows the number of different NPS reported to the EU warning system for the first time:

Conclusion

All drug markets are in a constant state of evolution and modification, responding to (and stimulating) demands for new substances and seeking to avoid law enforcement efforts. The pace of change has unsurprisingly accelerated since the rise of the internet and the EMCDDA/Europol poster provides an invaluable snapshot of the current state of play, as we understand it.

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