EMCDDA logo Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in the European Union 2001

Home of the Annual Report
Introduction to the annual report
Chapter 1: Drug demand and drug supply
Drug use
Health consequences
Law-enforcement indicators
Drug-market indicators
Chapter 2: Responses to drug use
Chapter 3: Selected issues
Chapter 4: The drugs problem in central and eastern European countries
Figures and tables
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Drug market indicators - seizures, price, purity

Drug-market indicators: Heroin and cocaine | Synthetic drugs and cannabis

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.

Figure 13 OL Number of amphetamines seizures in 1999

Amphetamine seizures - 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.

Figure 15

Figure 15


Data are not available for Greece; for some other countries, data are only available since 1988 (Denmark, Portugal), 1993-96 (Finland) and 1997 (the Netherlands).
Numbers of seizures are underestimated in 1999 since data are missing for Italy and the Netherlands.
Cannabis, heroin and cocaine data are not available in 1999 for Italy and the Netherlands.
Amphetamines data are not available since 1998 for Austria and the Netherlands and in 1999 for Italy. 1998 and 1999 data for Belgium include ecstasy seizures too.
Ecstasy - most of the data series start in the mid-1990s (except France, Italy, Spain, UK). Data are not available in 1999 for the Netherlands and Italy. 1998 and 1999 data for Belgium include amphetamines seizures too. Between 1985 and 1994, data for Spain include LSD seizures too.
LSD data are not available in 1999 for Finland and the Netherlands.

Reitox national focal points. See also statistical tables on drug seizures.

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 Kingdom.

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 metamphetamines) decreased.

Table 5 OL Drug seizures in the EU countries, 1999

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.

Figure 14 OL Number of cannabis seizures in 1999

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 cannabis leaves.

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 1999.

Figure 16

Figure 16


Some of the quantities seized are underestimated since data are not available.
Amphetamines data are not available for Austria since 1998. Since 1996, data for Belgium include both amphetamines and ecstasy powder seized (tablets of amphetamine and ecstasy seized are not included here).

Reitox national focal points. See also statistical tables on quantities of drug seized.

The price of cannabis is generally stable in the EU, though has been falling in Portugal since 1997.

(19) Nederwiet: Dutch cannabis plants locally grown in the Netherlands.

Drug-market indicators: Heroin and cocaine | Synthetic drugs and cannabis

Drug use | Health consequences | Law-enforcement indicators | Drug-market indicators
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