How much does opium cost

Prices due to overproduction in the basement

Narcotic drugs are getting cheaper and cheaper in Europe, mainly because more and more opium is being produced in Afghanistan and more and more cocaine is being produced in South America. Afghan heroin production may even have exceeded market needs.

This is one of the main points of the 2006 annual report on the state of the drugs problem in Europe, published on Thursday by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in Brussels.

Prices fell by at least 20 percent
The experts at the Lisbon observatory analyzed the development of prices for illicit drugs in Europe between 1999 and 2004. Conclusion: "The street price for illegal narcotic drugs has fallen in recent years and is probably lower than ever before."

The price for cannabis resin dropped by 19 percent, that for cocaine by 22 percent and for brown heroin by as much as 45 percent. The price of amphetamines fell by 20 percent and that of ecstasy by 47 percent - taking into account the inflation rate in each case.

Big differences
However, there are big differences from drug to drug: If the cannabis user in Portugal pays 2.3 euros for a gram of cannabis resin, in Norway it is ten euros.

Cocaine costs 41 euros per gram in Belgium, but 100 euros in Cyprus, Romania and Norway. The most commonly used form of heroin (brown) has a price of twelve euros in Turkey and 141 euros in Sweden.

Supply soon exceeds demand
The reasons for the development lie in large part in the unchecked production of illegal drugs. The heroin used in Europe is mainly produced in Afghanistan, which is the world leader in the "supply" of illegal opium. In 2005, the country's share of illegal opium production was likely to have been 89 percent (4,100 tons), the report said.

Reference is also made to the most recent analysis by the UN Narcotics Control Council. This suggests that the recent increase in (heroin) production could result in the quantities available worldwide even exceeding demand. The amount of heroin seized also increased. But that was around 19 tons in Europe in 2004 - and only a minimal part of the imported narcotic drug.

Cocaine on the rise
There is also more and more cocaine. The experts: "According to the UN Narcotics Control Council, global cocaine production rose to 687 tons in 2004, with Colombia (56 percent), Peru (28 percent) and Bolivia (16 percent) being the main suppliers." In 2004, 74 tons of cocaine were seized in Europe. That was 20 percent less than the year before.

The consumers are primarily 15 to 34-year-old men from the urban area. After cannabis, cocaine is already the second most widely used drug.