Report supported by the United Nations expresses concern about the link between social media and drug use

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Vienna, March 11th (IANS): Social media platforms offer new ways to buy cannabis and glorify negative drug-related behavior.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), an independent body backed by the United Nations, addressed the mounting evidence linking exposure to social media and drug use in its 2021 annual report released on Thursday.

This development is particularly important for young people, who are the main users of social media platforms and an age group with high rates of drug use, it said.

“Social media not only encourages negative behaviors related to drug use by glamorizing those behaviors, but also offers users the opportunity to purchase cannabis, prescription pain medication and other controlled substances across many platforms,” said Jagjit Pavadia, INCB President, in a statement.

The report also called on governments to take a more active role in regulating these platforms and on the private sector to moderate and self-regulate its platforms and limit the advertising and promotion of non-medical drug use.

Although several countries have “decriminalized and penalized the use of cannabis for non-medical purposes, this has been interpreted by many as legalizing the non-medical use of cannabis,” Pavadia added.

The INCB stressed that balanced and proportionate responses to drug-related offenses should be a guiding principle in criminal justice matters, with respect for human rights and the common good.

The report also raises concerns about regional disparities in the availability of painkillers.

It found that almost all opioid analgesic use is concentrated in the developed countries of Europe and North America, while use in other regions of the world is often insufficient to meet the medical needs of these populations.

The World Narcotics Control Board is calling on governments to do more to make medicines widely available and on countries with greater resources to help countries with fewer resources ensure access to narcotics.

The report called for “special attention and scrutiny” of illicit financial flows from drug trafficking, which can have far-reaching negative impacts on society, draining the economy and leading to social and political instability.

The report also found that while new technologies such as digital currencies, mobile payments and e-wallet services have made it easier and faster to transfer money internationally, they have anonymized users and processes, thereby creating new avenues for illicit financial flows.

The board warns that organized crime groups have exploited these new technologies to disguise the origin of illegal funds and maximize profits.

To counteract this, the INCB calls on governments to address all phases of drug trafficking – from production and cultivation to selling and concealing illicit profits.

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