Home Cannabis Health risks from opiates, cocaine and cannabis use are increasing, says UN watchdog

Health risks from opiates, cocaine and cannabis use are increasing, says UN watchdog

by Team Inc.


Measures to legalize the non-medical use of cannabis have led to an increase in serious health risks from cannabis consumption, says the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in its annual report. There is also a cocaine peak and an increasing opioid crisis, according to the drug control service.

The INCB indicated that the trend towards negative health effects and psychotic disturbances was reversing in some recreational users. It was also said that legalization violates the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

More health problems

“In all jurisdictions where cannabis has been legalized, data shows that cannabis-related health problems have increased,” the INCB said. It pointed out that between 2000 and 2018, “the global number of medical admissions related to cannabis dependence and withdrawal increased eightfold. The number of admissions for psychotic disorders due to cannabis products has quadrupled worldwide.”

Cocaine peak and opioid crisis

The INCB also pointed to an increase in cocaine production and trafficking in 2022, and in the chemical "precursors" needed to drugs including heroin, cocaine and amphetamines. “High levels of (cocaine) purity have become available at lower prices,” the UN body said, linking the development to evolving criminal activity at coca plant-growing sites.

The INCB also highlighted another worrying trend: human traffickers set up more cocaine processing operations in Europe last year. The UN body also warned that the trade in fentanyl and other dangerous opioids is expanding into Oceania. In the US, the opioid epidemic and drug overdose crisis worsened in 2022 due to illicit manufacturing and increased drug trafficking.

Trade in precursors and designer drugs

Another worrying part of the illicit drug industry over the past year has been the increased sophistication of entrepreneurs in the trade, who have replaced controlled substances with alternative chemicals that are not subject to international controls.

After recording a large number of seizures of these precursor chemicals, which are used to make illicit drugs, in 67 countries on five continents, INCB warned member states to be wary of the increasing trade in these substances and the speed at which the illegal industry evades international controls. International rules for the control of precursors are set out in the UN Convention against the Smuggling of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, adopted in Vienna on December 19, 1988.

The treaty specifically refers to “substances commonly used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances” and requires countries to control and monitor legitimate trade in drug precursors to prevent their illicit use.

Risk for young people

With regard to recreational use of cannabis, the UN panel expressed concern that the growing industry was fueling the shift towards even greater use of the drug. Especially by advertising products.

“In the United States, adolescents and young adults have been shown to consume significantly more cannabis in federal states where cannabis has been legalized compared to other states where recreational use is still illegal,” the INCB's latest report said.

New cannabis-based products, including edibles, or vaping products marketed in conspicuous packaging, have reinforced the trend, the report's authors continued, warning that these tactics have contributed to downplaying the effects of cannabis use in the public eye, especially among a younger audience.

Source: news.un.org (EN)

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