Seizures and market information

Production and trafficking  |  Seizures  |  Price and potency

Production and trafficking

Box 6: Interpreting seizures and market data

The number of drug seizures in a country is usually considered to be an indirect indicator of the supply and availability of drugs, although it also reflects law enforcement resources, priorities and strategies, as well as vulnerability of traffickers to national and international supply reduction strategies. Quantities seized may fluctuate widely from one year to the next, for example if in one year a few of the seizures are very large. For this reason, the number of seizures is considered by several countries to be a better indicator of trends. In all countries, the number of seizures contains a high proportion of small seizures at the retail level. The origin and destination of drugs seized may indicate trafficking routes and producing areas, but this information is not always known. The purity and price of drugs sold at retail level are reported by most of the Member States. However, data come from a range of different sources, which are not always comparable or reliable, making accurate comparisons between countries difficult.

In 2003, cannabis continued to be the most widely produced and trafficked illicit drug worldwide. However, the global spread of cannabis production and the difficulty of monitoring it make the estimation of how much is produced problematic (UNODC, 2003a).

Large-scale production of cannabis resin is concentrated in a few countries, in particular in Morocco, while trafficking is widespread across a large number of countries (CND, 2004,). Based on a survey of cannabis production in Morocco carried out by the UNODC and the Government of Morocco (2003), it is estimated that the Rif region accounted for about 40 % of the global production of cannabis resin in 2003 (INCB, 2005). Most cannabis resin consumed in the EU originates in Morocco and enters Europe mainly through the Iberian Peninsula, although the Netherlands represents an important secondary distribution centre for further transportation to EU countries (Bovenkerk and Hogewind, 2002). Other countries mentioned in 2003 as source countries for the cannabis resin seized in the EU include Albania, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Nepal and India (Reitox national reports, 2004; INCB, 2005).

Global herbal cannabis production continues to be spread across the world and potential production was estimated as being at least 40 000 tonnes (CND, 2005). Herbal cannabis seized in the EU in 2003 is reported to have originated from a variety of countries including the Netherlands and Albania, but also African countries (Malawi, South Africa, Nigeria) and the USA (Reitox national reports, 2004). In addition, some local (indoor or outdoor) cultivation and production of cannabis products takes place in most of the EU Member States (Reitox national reports, 2004).