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Post at: Aug 16 2021

UNODC – World Drug Report 2021


  • On June 24, 2021, the World Drug Report 2021 was published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Objectives of the WDR, 2021

Key findings of the WDR, 2021

  • Around 275 million people used drugs worldwide in the year 2020, while 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders.
  • In the last 24 years cannabis potency has increased by four times in parts of the world.
  • The percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by 40 percent.
  • Lower perception of drug use risks has been linked to higher rates of drug use.
  • The percentage of 9-THC- the main psychoactive component in cannabis has risen from around  6 percent to more than 11 percent in Europe between 2002-2019 and around 4 percent to 16 percent in the United States between 1995-2019.
  • In survey of health professionals across 77 countries, 42% said cannabis use had increased. A rise in the non-medical use of pharmaceutical  drugs was also observed in the same period.
  • About 5.5 percent of the population aged between 15 and 64 years have used drugs at least one in the past year, while 36.3 million people or 13 percent of the total number of persons who use drugs, suffer from drug use disorders.
  • Globally, over 11 million people are estimated to inject drugs, half of whom are living with hepatitis C.
  • Opioids continue to account for the largest burden of disease attributed to drug use.
  • Increase in population at most risk of drug use in highest is countries with low level of income.

Impact of COVID-19 on Drugs

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the factors that fuel the vicious cycle of socio-economic vulnerability and drug use disorders.

India and Illicit Drug Trade

  • According to a report by the UNODC, India is one of the major hubs of illicit drug trade ranging from age- old cannabis to newer prescription drugs like tramadol and methamphetamine.
  • India is wedged between the world’s two largest areas of illicit opium production – the Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle.
  • This proximity has traditionally been viewed as a source of vulnerability, since it has made India both a destination and a transit route for opiates produced in these regions.

Way Forward

  • Communicating facts about drugs and promoting science-based interventions is an absolute necessity if we are to reduce demand and supply of drugs, while also facilitating access to controlled medicines for those in need.
  • Combat misinformation about the potential impact of the increased strength of cannabis.
  • Use fact-based information to raise awareness of the potential harm from non-medical use of cannabis.
  • Monitor the cannabis markets and the perception of risks associated with use of cannabis.
  • Foster international cooperation for fighting the enduring problem of drug trafficking.


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