Vienna (dpa) – Record opium cultivation in Afghanistan was a key factor in the global acreage of opium poppy fields increasing to 3,500 square kilometres last year, the largest area since the late 1930s, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said Friday in Vienna.
Afghan farmers produced 6,400 tons of opium in 2014, 85 per cent of the global opium harvest. Laos and Myanmar were the other two main production countries for the substance, which is the precursor for heroin.
High production levels in recent years have not yet caused heroin supply to jump in most markets. However, the UNODC warned in its annual World Drug Report that there are initial indications of negative trends in consumer countries, including rising numbers of deaths and health emergencies related to heroin in Britain and the United States.
Heroin sold today also seems to of a higher purity and at lower prices, the UN drug agency said.
UNODC also said it was concerned that cannabis is being bred to contain higher and higher levels of the active drug ingredient THC.
“Evidence suggests that more drug users are suffering from cannabis use disorders, and that cannabis may be becoming more harmful, as reflected in the high proportion of persons seeking first-time treatment in several regions of the world,” UNODC said.