European Drug Monitoring Center Releases Annual Report: Concerns About Cocaine, Ecstasy, HIV#AIDS 11/30/01

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The European Union's drug agency, the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, released its annual overview of continental drug use trends and issues last week. While the report offered no stop-the-presses findings, it does provide an overview of drug use patterns and responses across the European Union. It is perhaps most notable for its recognition of "socially integrated drug users," a concept alien to US drug warriors, and for its calm and thoughtful tone, a marked contrast with the hysterical edge that too often seeps into official US drug policy pronouncements.

Among the review's findings:

  • Cannabis remains the most widely used drug in Europe. Lifetime use ranged from a low of 10% in Finland to a high of 20-25% in Denmark, Spain, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Great Britain. Interestingly, the study notes that in Greece and Sweden, two of Europe's most prohibitionist countries, lifetime use of inhalants is equal to or greater than that for cannabis.
  • Cocaine smoking goes upscale. The report noted with some concern the emergence of cocaine smoking among youthful club goers. Citing "a new upmarket trend in cocaine smoking in recreational nightlife," the report named Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Great Britain as countries where the phenomenon has been identified. Eschewing panicky moralism, the EMCDDA calmly noted that "such nuances need to be fully understood for effective policy-making."
  • Up to 4% of Europeans have tried ecstasy or amphetamines. The EMCDDA noted with concern increasing evidence of possible harmful effects to chronic or binge users. The use of ecstasy and other synthetic drugs appears to have stabilized, the report said, except in "some regions where cities or holiday resorts are more likely to attract young European tourists" and "urban areas where youth cultures are established." Ecstasy has spread beyond the rave scene, to bars, clubs and private settings, the report noted.
  • HIV/AIDS remains an intractable problem and could be on the rise among drug-using populations in six countries, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland. Across Europe, female injection drug users report higher rates of infection than male users. "This may be due to their higher levels or different ways of needle sharing and/or higher sexual risk," the report noted.
The report, along with press releases and associated materials, is available in 12 languages at online.

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Issue #213, 11/30/01 Editorial: Economic Realities | Proposed New Medical Marijuana Initiative Would Create State-Controlled Medical Marijuana Distribution System | Feds Lose "Crack House" Case Against Florida Rave Club Owners | Rave Wars Come to Austin: Cops Threaten Club Owners, Promoters, Negotiations Under Way | Western Australia Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession, Approves Heroin Trials, Rejects Safe Injecting Rooms | The Good, the Bad and the Well-Deserved: Needle Exchange Updates on San Diego, Albuquerque and Chicago | European Drug Monitoring Center Releases Annual Report: Concerns About Cocaine, Ecstasy, HIV/AIDS | Lebanese Government Looks the Other Way as Farmers Harvest Hash Crop, Poppies Now Being Planted | The Souder Files: This Week's Words of Wisdom | Higher Education Act Reform Campaign Gains New Endorsements | Media Scan: National Review on Medical Marijuana | Alerts: HEA Drug Provision, Drug Czar Nomination, Sembler Nomination, DEA Hemp Ban, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | The Reformer's Calendar

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