There is more land devoted to opium production that ever before, in large part because more acres are being used as poppy fields in Afghanistan, according to a U.N. report released Thursday.
Afghanistan, which accounts for 80 percent of the world’s opium production, increased the amount of land used for opium by 36 percent in a one-year period, from 154,000 hectares (380,542 acres) in 2012 to 209,000 hectares (516,450 acres) in 2013, according to the 2014 World Drug Report released by the U.N.’s Vienna-based Office on Drugs and Crime.
Myanmar is also ramping up opium production, according to the report. The area currently involved in poppy cultivation covered 57,800 hectares (142,826 acres) in the southeast Asian nation.
“In 2013, the global production of heroin also rebounded to the high levels witnessed in 2008 and 2011,” the report found. According to the New York Times, the area covered by opium production is the largest ever in the world since 1998, when estimates on land used for illicit opium production were first given.
The report found that drug use “is stable” across the world, with about 5 percent of the world’s population between 15 and 64 years old having used an illicit drug in 2012. One in 200 people are considered “problem drug users,” or about 27 million people -- roughly .6 percent of the world’s population, the report said.
While the report found that global marijuana use is down, consumption is higher in North America due to “a perception of lower health risks.” The report also referenced legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington state, but cautioned that more people are seeking treatment for problems connected to their use of marijuana.
“Although it is too early to understand the effects of new regulatory frameworks making the recreational use of cannabis legal in some states of the US … under certain conditions, more people are seeking treatment for cannabis-related disorders in most regions of the world, including North America.”