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Breaking the link between illicit drugs and social media: UN-supported report |

In its annual report, released on Thursday, the INCB notes growing evidence of a link between social media exposure and drug use, which disproportionately affects young people, the main users of media platforms. social, and an age group with relatively high rates of drug use. abuse.

The report also calls on the private sector to moderate and self-regulate their platforms and limit advertising and promotion of non-medical drug use.

In addition to social media platforms, criminals exploit many other digital tools, such as digital currencies, mobile payments and e-wallet services, which facilitate and speed up the international transfer of funds and allow them to conceal the origin of illegal funds and maximize profits.

© UNICEF/Giacomo Pirozzi

Substance use among adolescents is a serious problem worldwide.

Societies undermined by drug trafficking

Organized crime networks continue to rake in millions of dollars from drug trafficking, the INCB report warns, with negative consequences for societies and economic development, ranging from corruption and bribery to the increase in organized crime, violence, poverty and inequality.

To counter the negative effects and human cost of the trade, the organization recommends that governments address all stages of drug trafficking – from production and cultivation to sale and concealment of illegal profits – and to share intelligence on organized crime internationally.

“The INCB has found that illicit financial flows deserve special attention and consideration, as drug trafficking is a very lucrative industry for organized criminal groups,” said INCB President Jagjit Pavadia. “These groups rely on illicit financial flows to expand and sustain their criminal activities.”


In Cambodia, cannabis is often mixed with heroin and smoked by drug addicts.  (file 2014)

© UNICEF/John Vink

In Cambodia, cannabis is often mixed with heroin and smoked by drug addicts. (file 2014)

Developing countries hardest hit

These flows divert resources from initiatives aimed at reducing poverty and promoting social and economic development, which has a disproportionate effect on developing countries, where there is the greatest need for funds to promote economic growth and reduce poverty. inequalities.

In African countries, for example, the cost of organized crime is particularly high: around $88.6 billion, or around 3.7% of the continent’s gross domestic product – and almost the same amount as the combined annual inflows. official development assistance and foreign direct investment. – is lost to illicit financial flows each year.

This leads to a drain on public resources and undermines fundraising efforts for development.
Wholesale cannabis legalization ‘contravenes drug conventions’

The decriminalization and decriminalization of cannabis in many countries is flagged by the INCB as a cause for concern, with Ms Pavadia insisting that “legalizing the non-medical use of cannabis contravenes drug control conventions” .

In the report, the Narcotic Drugs Board stresses the need for a collective understanding of the concepts of legalization, decriminalization and decriminalization in accordance with the drug control conventions, and emphasizes the importance of a balanced and proportionate response to offenses drug-related as a principle guideline in criminal justice, respecting human rights and the public good.


An 18-year-old girl sleeps next to her newborn baby at a women's drug shelter in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

© UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani

An 18-year-old girl sleeps next to her newborn baby at a women’s drug shelter in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

“Significant shortcomings”

Criminals continue to have easy access, on the legal market, to precursors, the chemicals needed to manufacture illicit drugs.

The INCB urges improved controls and regulations governing the sale of precursors, citing a survey the organization conducted in 2021 that showed significant gaps in controls over manufacturing, trade and distribution National Chemicals.