Unveiling the report on the "state of the drugs problem in Europe" the EU drugs agency director, Wolfgang Götz said in press release " Europe’s drug policies and responses must now be configured to face the challenges of the next decade".
The report confirms the recent trend: a slow transition from "traditional" cocaine, marijuana and opiates towards new synthetic drugs. "The increasing use of borderline non or less controlled psychoactive substances...is extremely worrying," López Aguilar said, calling for better information on the high risks of these drugs, aimed at young people.
"Fast moving joined up drug market"
Ecstasy, amphetamine and other synthetic drugs are manufactured illegally in Europe from imported precursor chemicals. Around 11 million Europeans (3.2% of European adults) have tried ecstasy and about 12.5 million (3.8%) have taken amphetamines. "The fast moving and increasingly joined-up world we live in is mirrored by an increasingly fast moving and joined-up drug market which appears quick to adapt to both threats and opportunities," Götz said.
New drugs are coming onto the market all the time. The EU indentified a record number of 41 new substances in 2010, up from 24 the previous year. These drugs are increasingly available over the internet and have rapidly spread to many member states, which face difficulties in preventing their sale.
Cannabis decline, cocaine peak
According to the report, the use of cannabis , Europe’s most commonly used illicit drug, continues to decline among young people, possibly linked to a drop in tobacco smoking, changing lifestyles and its replacement by other more fashionable drugs. Around 78 million adults, almost a quarter, have tried cannabis and young men remain most at risk of becoming frequent users
The popularity of cocaine may have peaked. Recent surveys reveal declines in Western Europe, where use was highest. At €50-80 a gram, regular users may find it less attractive at a time of austerity, the report suggests. About 14.5 million (4.3% of European adults) have tried cocaine.
EU’s response - coordination to tackle cross-border crime
Major differences still exist among member states and drugs policy remains largely the responsibility of the nations but the issue is a cross-border problem and EU countries are working together to reduce the use of illicit drugs and trafficking.
With the Lisbon Treaty, the EU has new tools to address the drugs problem. In October the European Commission announced that it will propose clearer and stronger rules on tackling dangerous new drugs and trafficking – both of illicit drugs and the chemicals used to make them, including rules on the confiscation and recovery of assets involved in drug trafficking.