Ireland high on cocaine use table
Ireland has one of the highest rates of cocaine use in Europe, according to the findings of a new report.
The State has also been identified by international law enforcement agencies as a gateway for cannabis smuggled from Morocco into the rest of Europe.
The findings are contained in a Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) overview of drug trafficking throughout the continent published today.
The report also found:
1 - Ireland is used by Vietnamese and Chinese organised crime gangs cultivating home-grown cannabis.
2 - The State has the highest rate of use of new drugs or so-called “legal highs”.
3 - Polish and Lithuanian gangs are reportedly trafficking drugs from the Netherlands into Ireland.
4 - In the study, Ireland is identified as among a “handful” of countries where cocaine use remains “relatively high”, particularly among young adults.
5 - Spain, the UK, Italy, and Denmark were also identified as having high rates of cocaine use.
Together, the five countries are home to 1.7 million - or six out of ten - of Europe‘s 2.7 million recent cocaine users, aged between 15 and 34 years.
The EU drugs market survey shows cocaine is the second most popular illicit drug in Europe after cannabis. Around 5 per cent of Europeans aged between 15 and 64 have tried the drug at least once.
But the reports warns: “Labelled at one point as the ‘champagne of drugs’ because of its high price and associations with the rich and famous, cocaine snorted in powder form has found acceptance amongst drug users in recreational settings.
“However, the numbers of primary cocaine users in treatment belie the drug’s benign image.”
The law enforcement agencies also found Ireland was one of a number of countries that has seen a phenomenal rise in home-grown cannabis over the past five years.
The increase of domestic cannabis factories - which is widespread across Europe - is down to advances in cultivation techniques and technology.
Although it has reduced the demand for imported herbal cannabis, Ireland remains a “north west gateway” for cannabis resin into Europe.
“Average seizure sizes greater than 1kg suggest that Ireland is also an entry point for Moroccan resin into Europe,” the report states.
“Resin seizures represent about 15 per cent of estimated national consumption; it is likely that some of the resin entering Ireland eventually ends up in the UK, where the market for resin, although smaller than the market for herb, is still rather large, estimated to be about seven times the size of the Irish market.”
The study says Vietnamese organised crime gangs have in recent years become prominent in the indoor cultivation of cannabis in many countries, Ireland among them.
The gangs, which are described as “closed and hierarchical” have expanded to incorporate specialist roles for electricians, plumbers and even managers of cannabis factories.
Investigations have shown gangs in different countries may be connected through a criminal franchise system.
“Chinese nationals have also been reported to grow cannabis commercially in countries including Ireland and the United Kingdom,” the report states.
Polish and Lithuanian gangs trafficking drugs from the Netherlands into Ireland and the UK, as well as other states, are also becoming a growing problem.
Turning to new psychoactive substances - or “legal highs”, often sold in so-called “head shops” - the study found young people, aged between 15 and 24, in Ireland were more than three times more likely to have taken them than in most other European countries.
However, it noted recent legislation brought in here to combat the growing use of the drugs.