This article in The Economist caught my attention. Afghan meth producers are switching to the ephedra bush, a natural source of the meth precursor chemical pseudoephedrine, because governments are tightening control of sales of medicines containing pseudoephedrine. Switching to this plant-based method has also significantly reduced production costs. Organic meth is here.
Chinese and Burmese villagers have been known to use the ephedra bush as well. But Afghanistan’s lawlessness and its ready-made distribution networks, thanks to the other drugs produced in the country, along with the extremely low cost of farming, could soon make it a fearsome competitor in the global meth business.
I wanted to use the article as a springboard for writing more on the topic of humanity’s drug abuse problems but my revulsion to it increased almost exponentially the more research I did. It is a truly horrid situation and one that will be with us forever. As long as there are users there will be suppliers.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported this in the World Drug Report of 2018:
About 275 million people worldwide, which is roughly 5.6 per cent of the global population aged 15–64 years, used drugs at least once during 2016. Some 31 million of people who use drugs suffer from drug use disorders, meaning that their drug use is harmful to the point where they may need treatment. Initial estimations suggest that, globally, 13.8 million young people aged 15–16 years used cannabis in the past year, equivalent to a rate of 5.6 per cent. Roughly 450,000 people died as a result of drug use in 2015, according to WHO. Of those deaths, 167,750 were directly associated with drug use disorders (mainly overdoses).
To visualize: imagine, the city of Edinburgh empty because its population died from drug use. Or the whole country of Malaysia suffering from drug related disorders.
Democracy and security are also at stake:
The expansion of the global cocaine and opiate markets suggests that there will be a substantial increase in the profits derived from drug trafficking and related illicit financial flows, which may also contribute to the financing of other threats such as terrorism. The cocaine- and opiate-related economy is already having a major impact not only on the licit economy but also on democratic processes.
I think its time to write that article on unicorns and rainbows that I have stashed away somewhere…