Thursday, June 23, 2011

Illegal drugs

Home-grown highs

The narcotics business is changing from an international trade to a local affair

Climatic conditions still dictate where some drugs are grown. Virtually all the world’s cocaine comes from Colombia, Bolivia and Peru. Three-quarters of global opium production is in Afghanistan, with Myanmar and Mexico making up most of the balance. But cannabis plants, by far the world’s most popular illegal drug, are as happy in a Western window box as on a Himalayan hillside. Likewise, synthetic drugs—amphetamine, methamphetamine and ecstasy, plus a growing list of new potions—can be cooked up in factories anywhere (and increasingly with harmless ingredients: researchers at Harvard University are trying to make lysergic acid, the basis for LSD and many other pharmaceuticals, from baker’s yeast).

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