Synthetic drugs: amphetamines,
ectasy and LSD
In Finland and Sweden, amphetamines
are the second most commonly seized drug. The United
Kingdom accounts for most of the amounts of amphetamines,
ecstasy and LSD seized in the EU.
There is a significant local production
of synthetic drugs in the Netherlands but production
in other Member States (Belgium and the United Kingdom)
and in eastern European countries (the Czech Republic,
Estonia, Poland) is also reported. Amphetamines are
reported to be sold at between EUR 5 and 60 per gram,
while ecstasy tablets vary from EUR 5 to 25 each. Synthetic
drugs are cheaper in Belgium and the United Kingdom.
Amphetamine purity is very variable, from 3 % in Ireland
to 55 % in Finland, but typically ranges between 10
and 20 % in the EU. Tablets sold as ecstasy contain
- in 15 to 90 % of cases - ecstasy or ecstasy-like substances
(MDMA, MDEA, MDA). Amphetamines (or metamphetamines)
are found in 6 to 22 % of tablets, but various other
psychoactive substances may also be found.
- both numbers and quantities - have been on the rise
since 1985. In 1999, the number of amphetamine seizures
continued to increase in Finland and Sweden; while in
other countries they were stable or decreasing. Quantities
peaked in 1997-98 in most of the Member States.
Ecstasy seizures increased up until
1996, then stabilised and increased again in 1999 in
all countries except Belgium and Luxembourg. Amounts
of ecstasy seized followed the same upward trend since
1985, and then stabilised from 1993 to peak in 1996
and fall in 1997.
They have been increasing again since
then in all Member States except Austria and Ireland.
The highest increases were reported in Finland, Germany,
Greece, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
LSD seizures are less common. Both
numbers and quantities went up until 1993 and fell since
then. In 1999, quantities continued to decrease in all
countries except Austria, Greece, Portugal and the United
After significant decreases in the
1990s, amphetamine and ecstasy prices have stabilised
in the EU. However, decreases were reported in 1999
for ecstasy in Portugal and for amphetamines in Sweden,
while in Greece, the price of ecstasy tablets doubled.
In recent years, the proportion of tablets containing
ecstasy or ecstasy-like substances has increased in
many countries while those containing amphetamines (and
Cannabis is the most seized
drug in every Member State except Portugal where heroin
seizures predominate. Since 1996, Spain has been seizing
the largest quantities of cannabis. The United Kingdom
reports a higher number of cannabis seizures but on
average they involve smaller quantities.
Cannabis resin comes mainly from Morocco
via Spain and the Netherlands. The cannabis herb originates
in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Lebanon, as well as in
former colonies. Local production is reported by most
of the Member States, especially nederwiet (19)
production in the Netherlands.
In 1999, the retail price of cannabis
was reported to vary between EUR 3 and 18 per gram of
cannabis resin and between EUR 3 and 12 per gram of
The percentage of the psychoactive
substance in cannabis resin - delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC) - ranges from between 3 and 15 % on average, although
samples ranging from 0 to 70 % of THC have been reported
in the EU. THC content in cannabis leaves is generally
lower, around 2 to 7 %, with the exception of cannabis
nederwiet which rates higher (8.6 % on average).
The number of cannabis
seizures has risen steadily in the EU since 1985. In
1999, they continued to rise in all countries except
Belgium, Denmark and the United Kingdom where they decreased.
Quantities increased too but stabilised between 1995
and 1997. Since then, most of the countries reported
an upward trend, though substantial decreases took place
in Austria, Belgium, Greece and the United Kingdom in
The price of cannabis is generally
stable in the EU, though has been falling in Portugal