chapter  5
17 Pages

Illicit drugs: growth and production

The aim of this chapter is to alert the reader to the fact that the British ‘drug problem’ is only a small part of a global phenomenon and that the extent of the global illicit drug industry is such that it makes combating it difficult. Moreover, this chapter also marks the beginnings of a change of direction in the manner in which ‘drugs’ will be conceived. Once stripped of any moral viewpoint on the ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ of trading or buying illicit drugs it becomes clear that they are a valuable and sought after commodity, and as such hold the potential to be politically and socially important commodities. In short, a burgeoning and productive supply industry has built up in reaction to what seems to be an insatiable global demand. As is always the case in these instances, there are large profits to be made by those entrepreneurs able and willing to enter the market. In order to do this the chapter has to cover a great deal of information. It

begins by illustrating the size of the global illicit drug production industry. From there, the chapter identifies the three main plant-based illicit drugs and their primary countries of origin. The next section examines the impact illicit drug production has on the developing nations by focusing on the economic, political and social situation of one nation, Afghanistan. Following this, the chapter moves away from plant-based substances to examine the production of synthetic drugs in Europe. By way of conclusion, the chapter ends with a section on the problems the global nature of illicit drug production pose in relation to the local disruption of supply. The inclusion of this chapter serves two purposes. First, it alerts the

reader to the size and nature of the illicit drug industry, in order to demonstrate the complexity of the situation and the sheer size of the task faced by individual nations in attempting to combat their domestic drug problem. Second, and related to the former point, the chapter serves to partially answer one of the most often asked questions in the drug debate: that of ‘why not stop the product at source?’ This seemingly straightforward idea is, as will be demonstrated, fraught with major difficulties and holds the potential to unleash drastic unforeseen consequences within the

producing nations, as well has holding the potential for international repercussions.