HomeNewsBriefRecord Number of Online Shops Selling 'Legal Highs'
BRIEF

Record Number of Online Shops Selling 'Legal Highs'

DRUG POLICY / 16 NOV 2012 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

According to the European Union's (EU) annual report on drug use patterns, new synthetic drugs are being reported at a rate of one per week, and there have never been more online shops selling "legal highs."

The report, released by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), states that over 50 new synthetic drugs have been detected in the EU so far in 2012, up from just 24 new synthetic substances in 2009. These include substances that reportedly echo the effects of other drugs, including Spice, a mix of herbs sprayed with synthetic chemicals that mimics marijuana.

Additionally, the EMCDDA tracked a record number of online shops used to sell legal drugs, including psychedelic mushrooms, salvia, and ketamine (a sedative used in veterinary medicine). The agency identified 693 of these online shops in January 2012, compared to 314 in January 2011 and 170 in January 2010.

Some synthetic products marketed as "legal highs" on these websites actually contain controlled substances, the report adds.

InSight Crime Analysis

According to the EMCDDA, it is not clear how far organized crime is involved in this emerging market. However, the trends reported by the EMCDDA have been echoed elsewhere: use of cocaine is falling and the availability of new, synthetic drugs continues to rise. Cocaine remains the most widely used illicit drug in Europe, but the EMCDDA report states that the trend may be in decline and that cocaine "may be losing its image as a high status drug." This could impact Latin America's drug cartels, who have benefited greatly from expanding into the European market over the past two decades.

There are other signs that demand for synthetic drugs is growing, including in Colombia, where party powder 2C-B is now reportedly the drug of choice for the nation's elite. Meanwhile, the 2012 United Nations World Drug Report singled out increased production of synthetic drugs as a problem worth monitoring.

And as the EMCDDA report points out, the online opportunities for drug distribution are likely to continue to increase. Drug-selling website Silk Road makes $22 million in annual sales, according to Forbes

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 12 SEP 2022

Synthetic drugs like methamphetamine, fentanyl, and ecstasy are reshaping Latin America's drug trade.

COCA / 17 MAR 2021

The US State Department’s annual drug control strategy report calls for Colombia to restart the aerial eradication of coca crops,…

CHILE / 16 SEP 2022

Chile has recently seized several new psychoactive substances (NPS), highlighting the growing diversity of its drug markets.

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…