The use of cocaine in Croatia is growing, and an additional problem in drug abuse is the growing number of new psychoactive drugs which have unknown effects to users' health, the head of the government's office for fighting drug abuse, Zeljko Petkovic, said on Wednesday, ahead of the Parliament's health care committee session on drugs.
In the committee's session on drugs, the 2018 European Drug Report will be presented to members of the committee and various experts from agencies fighting drug abuse.
"Just like in the EU, Croatia also saw a growth in cocaine consumption, which unfortunately is becoming purer. Over the last two or three years we have seen record-high levels of cocaine production and the bombardment of the market with new quantitites of cocaine," Petkovic said, adding that the growth in opium production in Afghanistan has also been noticed over the past few years, as well as the processing of raw opium in Europe.
With more drug production, the availability of drugs also increases, and there's also the problem of online drug trade, he added. Petkovic said that another problem were new psychoactive drugs, the number of which continues to grow.
"Around 650 substances are currently tracked in Europe, and the biggest problem is that nobody knows what the consequences of consuming them are," he said.
As for marijuana, he said, it is by far the most popular drug in the European market, with more than 70 percent of all drug busts in Europe involving illegal marijuana.
Chairwoman of the Parliament's committee for health care and social policy, Ines Strenja-Linic, said that the drug market is very complex, and requires and inter-disciplinary approach.
"In 2016 the number of drug confiscations was up 25 percent compared to 2015, which indicates that it's something that we must fight and take face on," she said. The 2018 European Drug Report will be presented in the committee's session by the head of the Markets, Crime, and Supply Reduction Sector at the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) , Andrew Cunningham.
"In this year's report we single out certain aspects of the use of synthetic drugs and the rise in use of synthetic opiates, which represents a big public health challenge," Cunningham said.
EMCDDA is a EU agency based in Lisbon charged with monitoring drug abuse problems on the European level. It presents its annual report every year to the European Parliament, and reports to the European Commission on the implementation and efficiency of EU's action plan tackling drug abuse.