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World-Wide Drug Abuse in 1984 “Unprecedented,” Says U.N Panel

January 17, 1985

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ Worldwide drug abuse and related crimes reached unprecedented proportions last year, even posing a threat to the security of some countries, according to a U.N. report released today.

″Illicit production, trafficking and abuse has become even more serious″ in 1984, the annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board said. ″An unprecedented number of countries and human beings are affected.″

″The problem has become so pervasive that...even the very security of some states are threatened,″ the report said.

The report did not elaborate on the national security issue but it may have alluded to developments in Colombia, where the justice minister was assassinated last May after declaring war on drug traffickers. A national state of siege was imposed there after the killing.

The 13-member panel of non-governmental experts cooperates closely with the World Health Organization and other U.N. organizations in prevention of drug abuse.

The 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs is formally accepted by 115 countries and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances by 77 nations. The board can submit drug control recommendations to states party to the two documents but has no enforcement powers.

The 45-page report said U.S. high school students were turning away from marijuana, one of the few positive findings in a generally pessimistic overview of the world situation.

″The abusive consumption of drugs remains a serious public health problem,″ in the United States, the study said. But it added that ″overall percentages of new and current abusers″ of some drugs are believed to be leveling off within some age groups.

In contrast, it described the drug abuse and trafficking situation in Western Europe as ″grim and deteriorating.″

″The number of abusers, involving even the very young is growing,″ it said. ″The number of drug-related deaths is increasing in many (West European) countries.″

Heroin use there is ″a major public health problem″ according to the report. It said the amount reported seized has grown steadily in the past decade and jumped to 1.6 tons in 1983 - about 40 percent more than in 1982.

Italy, West Germany and Britain reported the highest amounts seized and ″other countries most gravely affected by heroin abuse are France, the Netherlands and Belgium,″ it said.

Cocaine ″has become a major drug of abuse″ with the largest recent amounts seized in West Germany, Belgium, France and Spain, said the report. In Western Europe, amphetamine misuse is greatest in Scandinavia, it said.

In the United States, heroin abuse last year remained ″relatively stable″ while cocaine usage ″continues to escalate,″ the report said. Most widely misused is marijuna, ″and the number of persons who use this drug once or more monthly is estimated at more than 20 millions.″

But the report said hashish and marijuana use among U.S. high school seniors declined in 1984 for the fifth successive year. It attributed the trend partly to education, and changes in attitudes.

In Canada, the study said, ″Abuse and illicit traffic in drugs constitute serious and growing concerns. Cannabis and its derivatives remain the most extensively abused.″

″Cocaine is increasingly becoming the second drug of abuse (and) there also seems to be ample quantities of heroin on the illicit market.″

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the study reported ″continued expansion of illicit production and trafficking, notably of cocaine. Many countries in Central America and the Caribbean continue to be important transit staging centers for illicit traffic.″

The report said the Middle East ″remains a major source of opiates for the international illicit traffic. Over one half of the heroin seized in North America and around 70 percent seized in Western Europe during the first seven months of 1984 originate in the Near and Middle East.″

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