The narcotics business is changing from an international trade to a local affair
Jun 23rd 2011 | MEXICO CITY
LIKE all canny entrepreneurs, drug dealers have a knack for branding their goods with evocative names. Moroccan kif, Nepalese ganja and Bolivian marching powder—such labels add cosmopolitan glamour to a seedy business. Yet according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), published on June 23rd, changes in consumption patterns and production techniques mean that the trade is becoming less globalised—and somewhat less alluring.
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).