Cross-cutting issues: evolving trends and new challenges

This, the fourth booklet of the World Drug Report 2020, contributes evidence to support the international community in implementing operational recommendations on cross-cutting issues for addressing and countering the world drug problem, in particular its evolving reality, trends and existing circumstances, as well as emerging and persistent challenges and threats, including the recommendations contained in the outcome document of the special session of the General Assembly, held in 2016.

The booklet first analyses the macro-dynamics that are driving the expansion and increasing complexity of the drug markets. Factors such as population growth, urbanization and income levels and distribution are examined, the interplay between a number of substances at the manufacture, trafficking and use levels is considered, and the question on whether changes in drug markets are mostly demand-, supply- or control-driven is addressed.

With the market for opioids being the most rapidly evolving drug market, the booklet then provides an up-to-date review of the latest information regarding the multifaceted global opioid crisis, which was examined in the World Drug Report 2019. With a particular focus on fentanyl and its analogues in North America and on tramadol in Africa and the Middle East, an analysis of the spread of the opioid crisis beyond those subregions is also included.

The booklet subsequently reviews recent trends in the market for new psychoactive substances, including their trafficking, use and geographical spread, and provides the latest updates on the use of the darknet for supplying drugs, in the context of emerging dynamics and threats, with an analysis of the evolution over time of the main marketplaces selling drugs on the darknet and of the trends in drug purchases by users.

The booklet concludes by reviewing new developments in jurisdictions that have measures allowing the non-medical use of cannabis. It describes the outcome of one year of implementation of different aspects, and the status to date, of legislation and the regulation of the non-medical use of cannabis in Canada, as well as developments in selected jurisdictions in the United States of America and in Uruguay.