Posted: 5 months ago

Business that Kills – Economy of Drugs in Georgia and Worldwide

According to the 2018 report by UNODC, drugs worth 4.5 trillion USD have been sold worldwide in 2000-2016 years. According to UN experts, the major sales market promotes such a turnover. According to the UNODC report, there are about 300 million people worldwide that actively use various drugs.

Countries with the biggest quantity of drug addicts, 29 million people, are registered in the USA. The age of drug addicts ranges from 15 to 64. Only in Europe are drugs worth more than 30 billion USD sold. The turnover of many other drug varieties also seems impressive.

According to the latest reports, about 430-450 tons of heroin are registered in annual turnover, including 380 tons produced in Afghanistan. Specialists have also identified the routes through which Afghan heroin penetrates the sales market. Specialists name two key routes.  First, the Balkan route, crossing Iran, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. According to the UN experts, this route transits drugs worth about 20 million USD a year. The so-called northern route transits drugs worth about 13 billion USD a year. This route crosses Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.

Along with Afghanistan, opium is supplied from Burma, Mexico and Laos. According to the latest reports, opium plantations cover 5480 square meters worldwide.

According to specialists, in 2016-2017, opium production rose by 65% worldwide, and the figure reached 10,500 tons.  Annual production of cocaine made up 1,410 tons. The key market supplier is Columbia, though cocaine plantations have been set up in Western Africa and Southeast Asia, too. The ratio of so-called pharmaceutical opioids (tramadol) has also considerably increased on the market.

Just in 2016, the Special Anti-Narcotics Services seized 87 tons of various pharmaceutical substances. India and China remain key suppliers of Tramadol and other synthetic opiates.

Cannabis is the most popular narcotic substance among young people. According to the UNODC report, about 13 million adolescents between 15-16 years of age have used this drug even once.

What is the situation in Georgia in this respect? According to the last report by the US Department of State, Georgia is a country for the transit of chemical precursors for opium and heroin production –  acid anhydride. The report does not mention the volume of smuggling, but according to later reports, about 11 tons of narcotics are transited through Georgia every year. According to official indicators, about 200,000 drug addicts are registered in Georgia.

According to a survey by IDFI (Institute for Development of Freedom of Information), in 2015 the Authorities spent 4,243,800 GEL on the treatment of drug addicts, 4,782,900 GEL in 2016, 5,207,800 GEL in 2017

As reported, the purchase, preservation or consumption of narcotic substances in small volumes is punished by a 500 GEL fine. According to IDFI information, in 2017, the state budget received 1,708,000 GEL from these fines (January-October), while the authorities spent 2,448,520 GEL on drug tests in the same year.