Ireland tops legal high user charts
Published 31/01/2013 | 15:10
Ireland is one of the top countries in Europe for cocaine use, a new report shows.
The country has also been identified by international law enforcement agencies as a gateway for cannabis smuggled from Morocco into the rest of Europe.
Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) published their findings in their first ever comprehensive overview of drug trafficking throughout the continent.
The report also found that Ireland is a hot-bed for Vietnamese and Chinese organised crime gangs cultivating home-grown cannabis, and topped the poll for use of new drugs or so-called "legal highs".
Polish and Lithuanian gangsters are increasingly trafficking drugs from the Netherlands into Ireland, according to the report.
In the study, Ireland is identified as among a "handful" of countries where cocaine use remains "relatively high", particularly among young adults.
Spain, the UK, Italy, and Denmark were also named and shamed for topping the cocaine league table. 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% 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."