The topic of cocaine has been on the top of media and public discussions in Sweden lately. ECAD director Jörgen Svidèn addressed the debate together with Fransisco Santos Calderon, vice president of Colombia, in one of the biggest Swedish newspapers Nerikes Allehanda on March 21, 2010. Today ECAD publishes this article in English.
Read more: The Octopus of Cocaine: from Colombia to Sweden

In his book Beauty and Hell, Italian writer Roberto Saviano says:
There is no product, no idea, and no article that has had such a growing market over the last 20 years.”  He is talking about cocaine.


According to police and customs and other initiated sources is cocaine on its way to be established in Sweden. Cocaine has until now been a rather minor problem in the country but this picture is changing.

 From having been restricted to the jet set groups in our major cities it is spreading to new groups, and to the whole country. The price on cocaine has fallen and today it is not just a champagne drug for the well-to-do people on the fancy nightclubs. This development is very worrying, not the least because of the great impact the production of cocaine has on the environment, direct for the priceless rainforests in Colombia and indirect for the environment and climate in the world.


Development in Sweden

In Western Europe has since long been the second drug after cannabis. According to EMCDDA is abuse of cocaine growing in a number of countries. In Sweden has cocaine until recently played a rather marginalised role, but there are reasons to believe that Sweden are on its way to be even with its European neighbours if the problem is not noticed. The Swedish customs confiscated 32 kilo of cocaine the first sex months 2009, compared to 10 kilos the same period 2008. The Police is reporting the same trend; a growth both in the number of seizures and in weight. In Sweden’s 25 largest cities it is reported that cocaine is the fastest growing of all illicit drugs.


The price on cocaine has during the same time been reduced dramatically and it is no longer expensive to abuse cocaine. One gram costs approximately 800 SEK, a bit more in the central parts in the largest cities and a bit less on the countryside. This means that the price has nearly been halved the latest ten years, which obviously makes it easier to recruit more abusers.


New groups

Accessible data indicates that nearly 80 % of all cocaine in Sweden is in the three largest cities. The normal picture of a cocaine abuser, the wealthy people around nightclubs, is on its way to change. Cocaine is still to be found there but it is misused in far more wide circles. The drug is now to be found almost everywhere. To take one example, nine out of ten people who contacted the treatment facilities in Stockholm this year because if cocaine addiction, was young construction workers. Cocaine is furthermore spreading to suburbs, smaller cities and to new groups, often to marginalised and vulnerable groups, football supporters and to office guys who need to be “refreshed” for their daily meetings. The police is also reporting that there is a tight connection between cocaine and violent crimes. There are also signals that young people snorting cocaine does not see themselves as addicts, though they does not inject.


Why worry?

We mean that there are serious reasons to worry about this development. One is of course that cocaine is strongly addictive and that it affects the central nervous system with severe damages to the body. There is however other reasons than just personal to refrain from cocaine. Cocaine abuse has widely more and for humanity greater effects than purely medicals ones. Misuse of cocaine has global consequences and that for two important reasons. Drugs in general are to great extent financing the wars and terrorisms we see for instance in Afghanistan and Colombia, where kidnapping and murders connected to this belongs to the everyday situation. In addition to that, the production of cocaine destroys huge areas of invaluable and for humanity necessary natural assets.


Around 70 % of all cocaine produced in the world originates from Colombia. The drug lords and the cartels have concentrated their activities in extremely ecological sensitive eco systems; in the Andes highlands and the rainforests in Amazons. These environments contain very sensitive ecological and biological zones. Colombia's rainforest accounts for 10 % of the planet's biodiversity. According to WWF has some 17 % of all original rainforest been lost due to devastation, not the least because of illegal felling to grow cocaine. This has huge impact on the greenhouse effect, when the Amazons is a great and important consumer of carbon dioxide. There is obviously a strong connection between cocaine production and global warming. The devastation of Colombia’s rainforests is furthermore destroying biological diversity, which leads to dramatically reduction and even loss of unique animal species.


To produce one gram of cocaine for an abuser, four square meters of irreplaceable rainforest is destroyed; for every hectare of cocaine cultivation, four hectare of Amazons forests are vanished. Only between 1990 and 2000 an area equivalent to the seize of Skane (a region in Sweden) was devastated to grow cocaine – and it goes on and on.


To grow their illegal crops, they furthermore use a variety of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides to grow their illegal crops. These destroy biomass because of their high toxicity. In the year 2000 alone, approximately 4.5 millions liters of these chemicals were used. These chemicals, solvents, acids and bases are dumped into Amazon streams and rivers, damaging the environment and the normal functioning of aquatic ecosystems, especially the biological cycles and the very existence of their fauna. The quantity of chemicals dumped into the Amazon river systems each year is equivalent to two Exxon Valdez disasters.



Our universal environment is one of the most important questions and on the top of the political agenda, as well as for every man, all around the world today. We are fortunately moving towards a better understanding of our activities impact on the environment. On the present climate meeting in Copenhagen it is discussed nations responsibility to save the planet from further destruction. Still, every man has a great responsibility.


The drug lords cocaine cultivation destroys invaluable natural resources with huge negative impact for the environment. This will continue if the demand is not stopped. One important issue in this is to stop the glorification of cocaine, strangely enough often supported by popular culture and mass media. People using cocaine or contributing to idealise the drug are not idiots. They are as all of us capable of making rational choices. It is not only in Copenhagen important decisions has to be taken four our world. We all have a great responsibility for this!


Fransisco Santos Calderon                       Jörgen Svidén

Vice President of Colombia                     Director, ECAD

53d Session of CND was all about general consensus on the importance of universal prevention strategies, mass-media comprehensive campaigns and the latest INCB report of 2009 which underlined that primary prevention role had in many cases been underrated.
Read more: ECAD reports on the 53d CND Session in Vienna

The issue of palliative care and medical help for drug dependence was emphasized in many presentations, for instance International Association against Cancer and Human Rights Watch stated the gravity of available medication and access to narcotic drugs for the relief of pain and suffering.

Medical marijuana is also an issue in 14 American states that has already resulted in numerous dispensaries distributing the drug for prescriptions.

ONDCP and its head Gil Kerlikowske stated that no legalization of this drug can be on US drug policy agenda, and referred to scientific research that by now is not evaluated yet. Also to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and incorrect use of terminology by those Read more: ECAD reports on the 53d CND Session in Viennapropelling ideologies in support of drug use liberalization, it was decided not to use the term “harm reduction”, said Mr. Kerlikowske. 

Cannabis remains the most abused narcotic substance in the world and it is vital that those who use it get regular expert advice not only on how the drug affects its users, but also how to give up on it.

                                                                                                (Picture: Mr. Gil Kerlikowske at the American Embassy in Vienna)

Russian delegation emphasized the value of primary prevention and information, also monitoring of public opinion to evaluate the effects of state policy communication campaigns. In general the vision of healthy lifestyle encompasses the health of each single person, said Russian delegate.


Annual CND session provides Vienna NGO Committee members to make their voice heard during informal dialogues with the heads of CND, INCB and UNODC. This session gathered 55 VNGOC member organizations and ECAD was one of those.

The most controversial of the informal meetings turned out to be the one with Executive Director of UNODC, Mr. A.M. Costa. This meeting with Vienna NGOs was his last one and Mr. Costa, who is bound to leave UNODC in a few months, shared his frustration over the spread of “neo drug-coloniaRead more: ECAD reports on the 53d CND Session in Viennalism” in the developing countries.
To highlight some points of his official presentation at the plenary session of CND, Mr. Costa stated the importance of health (and not repression) in the centre of drug policy, as well as balance and coherence between various drug policy approaches.

In his political statement Mr. Costa expressed discomfort with the present situation, because of the behavior of rich countries that seemed to be threatening the state of poor ones. He also urged to look beyond the drugs issue and to mind the evolution of geo-politics in this respect, since ideological debate was not constructive.

ECAD was among those organizations that appreciated Mr. Costa`s candid attitude and constant efforts, and thanked the head of UNODC for the engagement he had listlessly demonstrated in drug policy matters.

(Picture: Vienna NGO Comittee head David Turner (left) and his deputy Michel Perron (right) presiding at the Informal Dialogue with Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of UNODC). 

Participants of the ceremony in ViseECAD Advisory Board meeting in Visé

On February 5th, the ECAD Advisory Board held its regular meeting. This time the members of the Board visited the Belgium town of Visé which joined our organisation last year at the Mayors' Conference in Göteborg. Mayor Marcel Neven's address at the Mayors' Forum is available at

The Advisory Board discussed routine issues on the agenda and the remaining preparations ahead of the 17th Mayors' Conference which will take place in Malta on April 22-24, 2010.

The meeting of the Board fortunately coincided with a festive event - a reopening of the town's old church after nearly 20 years of renovation. At the picture, all participants of the ceremony assembled in the chancel, letting the photographers to do their work...

Visé, a town with about 17,000 inhabitants, is strategically located half-way between
Liège and Maastricht, on a bank of the major waterway of the region, river Maas. There were not many historical twists and turns which did not affect this small French speaking Walloon town. It is then not a surprise that the citizens are proud of their 700-year old club of arbalesters and two significantly younger but still beloved clubs of harquebusiers which have shown their treasures at the church ceremony.

Mind you, even in today's united Europe the neighbours continue to cause citizens of Visé a headache. Maastricht, the neighbouring Dutch city, tries to push some of its burden over the border. In his address at the ECAD Mayors' Forum, Marcel Neven called for solidarity with the regions' cities which suffer from the consequences of drug tourism – a phenomenon which is fuelled by Maastricht’s many “legal”, "high quality" and "comfortable" cannabis outlets, so called "coffee shops".  This Dutch municipality was not able to resolve the situation on its own, though it came up with a number of different measures, among them a proposal to move some of the coffee shops out of the city centre and closer to the Belgian border!

Visé organised a meeting with a representative of the Maastricht city administration, Mr Peter Corsius. This, in order to deepen the Board’s understanding of the situation which the cities of the region are faced with. The cities, which do not agree that consumption of marijuana upon the municipal indulgence is a good response to the drug abuse problem...

A conclusion which could be drawn from a rather expletive address of Mr. Corsius is simple: some 30 years ago, when the Netherlands have chosen their way of dealing with cannabis, not all Dutch cities realised what spectrum of consequences their policy would bring about in a Europe without borders... Mr Corsius invited "to think together" about what could be done in the present state of affairs. What are the chances that an adequate decision would be made – to close down coffee shops? The decision making process seems to be greatly complicated by the fact that the income from sales of this illegal by both international and     Dutch laws narcotic drug has become an important source of the city's budget.

A short discussion between the members of the ECAD group after visiting one of the drug outlets located some hundred meters away from the city hall, revealed that we all have been stricken by the same observation: customers, which were many on a Friday afternoon, all looked pretty much as any "ordinary" young people... this led us to a sombre reflection on how the present system of coffee shops with the authorised sale of 5 g hashish or marijuana per purchase occasion broadens a circle of potential drug consumers...

However, there are signs that the situation in the Netherlands might be getting straightened out, thanks to the efforts of national and international communities. ECAD is glad that Maastricht has a neighbour which is ready to help to create a sustainable solution.

ECAD thanks colleagues in Visé for their great hospitality and good organisation of the meeting.



Left: Charles Havard, Municipal Secretary, and Jim Corr, Chairman, ECAD, point at the ECAD membership certificate placed under a document signed Cardinal Mazarin
Right: Advisory Board on the way to the meeting at the Maastricht municipality


The Swedish Government has decided to support the second World Forum Against Drugs in Sweden. Delegates from 80 countries participated in the first Forum which took place in Stockholm in 2008.

- We look forward to establish an international forum to strengthen a balanced, restrictive global drug policy, says Sofia Modigh, project leader for the 2010 World Forum Against Drugs.

The Executive Director of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa, and the Swedish Minister for Public Health, Maria Larsson, will give key note speeches at the conference.

The World Forum will take place at
Norra Latin City Conference Center in Stockholm, Sweden on May 24-25, 2010 under the high patronage of H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden.

International and national scientists, politicians, policy makers, NGOs, law enforcement agencies, social workers, parents and other organisations and individuals are expected to participate.

- We have worked hard for a couple of years to bring together drug-restrictive forces from all over the world. On the global arena, the pro-drug lobby has stood unchallenged for too long. We are very pleased that the World Federation Against Drugs has been founded as this enables us to work effectively on the international arena,  says WFAD Board Secretary Per Johansson.

The World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) is a multilateral community of non-governmental organisations and individuals. Founded in 2009, the aim of WFAD is to work for a drug-free world. The members of the WFAD share a common concern that illicit drug use is undercutting traditional values and threatening the existence of stable families, communities, and government institutions throughout the world.

WFAD is held under the high patronage of H.M. Queen Silvia (on the photo: H.M. Queen Silvia addresses the First WFAD in 2008)

ECAD prepares side events and tailored programme for the ECAD Members in connection to the Forum. For detailes please contact the ECAD office.



intl_drug_control_21st_centuryBook review  
International Drug Control into the 21st Century - edited by Hamid Ghodse 
Published by Ashgate, Aldershot, UK .
ISBN 978-0-7546-7215-9
Review by Peter Stoker, Director, National Drug Prevention Alliance.

The first surprise in reviewing this book is the breadth of issues which the INCB addresses. The simplistic image of INCB is that they are no more than a grouping of authoritarians, inventing rules then watching hopefully for compliance - this collation of studies, drawn by Professor Ghodse into one edited volume, gives the lie to that. INCB are clearly deeply and actively concerned not just with the medical but also with the social and economic aspects of drug policy, are involved in ensuring adequate supply of drugs for legitimate medical use, and are alive to the complexities of drug prevention and health promotion. Moreover they don't huddle in their own comfort zone, they face challenges to their position, not least proposals for legalisation or other liberalisation of drugs.
As a professional in the addictions field for 35 years, a Professor of Psychiatry and Drug Policy, and several times President of the International Narcotics Control Board, few if any can match Hamid Ghodse for experience or authority. This book draws together the strands of thinking in INCB over the past two decades. Each year since 1992 INCB has defined a theme for study. Professor Ghodse has collated and combined these studies into one eminently-readable volume. Anyone serious about understanding the full spread of this field should have this book on their desk - and regularly read it.
The stated purpose of the INCB is "... to protect the well-being of individuals and society". Some contest this in terms of 'free choice' or 'human rights' - INCB's response is that the prevention of drug abuse problems is protecting the human rights of society as a whole. INCB has powers to sanction under-performing countries and to force compliance, but this power has never yet been fully applied. As always, demand reduction and prevention is a poor relation, generous lip-service but relatively small resourcing - this despite many states arguing that this work should have its own Convention.
The 1988 Convention was the first co-ordinated attack on traffickers. Trafficked drugs are often stored in staging points were laws are weak. Traffickers need to be tackled at international level; acting only at national level is, as Hamid Ghodse observes, "pruning the branches but leaving the roots intact".
Controls have become more effective over the decades; diversion is greatly reduced, meanwhile the practice of therapy has successfully replaced some of the over-consumption of drugs through repeat prescription. Alternative products in cultivation countries are an attractive solution, but this has yet to be implemented to any effective degree by any country. Zero percent drug use has never been achieved, one to two percent, as in USA pre-1950s, is probably a more realistic target.     
There is no evidence that illicit drug production improves local economy; the current suggestion in the US State of California that legalising and taxing cannabis use would lift them out of financial problems is extremely dubious; more likely is that there would be gains for a few but losses for many.
Demand Reduction and Supply Reduction are symbiotic - but the key importance of demand reduction is recognised throughout the international community. To be effective, Demand Reduction needs to engage with community empowerment, education, media, health promotion, culture, and treatment/rehabilitation. Success depends very much on political will as well as community co-operation. Harm reduction is an acknowledged part of the process but INCB emphatically says "Harm Reduction is no substitute for demand reduction". Under Article 3 of the 1988 Convention it is possible to address what some in the media are doing as 'inducement or incitement to use drugs'. INCB consider that governments should be pro-active, rather than just leaving the advocacy role to people who wish to dismantle or otherwise subvert the Conventions.
INCB emphatically state that "The most promising prevention is culture change" and by 2004 governments could be seen waking up to the possibilities of shifting culture. INCB refer to the reduction in the tobacco use as an example of what has been achieved. If a prevention programme and its evaluation is of longer duration than the election cycle in a given country, then politicians and government agencies will be less interested. Prevention must be sustained, or else complacency and tolerance develops.
In pressing for liberalisation, many criticise prevention and demand reduction for not succeeding in 100 per cent of the efforts, (and yet it is interesting how this failure to succeed in 100 per cent of efforts never appears as a criticism of a harm reduction programme). INCB observes that not enough has been done to disseminate successes. Semantics and memes, a standby of liberalisers' weaponry; do not impress INCB. "Legalisation arguments don't withstand critical evaluation and run contrary to general expectation. Proponents have yet to produce viable proposals. Liberalisation would irrevocably impact public health, social wellbeing and international stability."
The Internet age has given new ways of conducting crime - in the UK more than 1000 websites selling drugs have been identified. At the same time the regulations and the application of regulations leaves much to be desired; in a survey of 52 countries, 33 had done nothing, 9 had done little and 10 would only address major crime matters



ECAD's activities from year to year culminate in the annual ECAD Mayors Conference, hosted by a distinct ECAD member city every summer. Councillors and other politicians and policymakers convene with academics and civil society organizations to participate in seminars and study visits, discussing the latest developments in drug prevention efforts throughout Europe.

26th Mayors Conference - Cork 2019



and 6th World Forum Against Drugs

Register to

Conference materials

Kevin Sabet, PhD, Director, Drug Policy Institute, University of Florida, President, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), USA
Speech at the WFAD /ECAD 25th Mayors Conference, Gothenburg, May 15, 2018 (Video 5min.)

Supply reduction in Peril?  A lot of the worlds`s drug supply emanates from a war-torn Columbia.
Dr. Michael Jonsson, FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency

Text to the slides (PDF)
In Columbia, a peace deal has been struck, which gives hope for a closure of insurgency and violence. (PDF)

Thomas Pietschmann, Dr, Drug Research Section, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs
The International drug control system, global/regional and national drug patterns and trends, and supply reduction efforts at the international level (PDF)


Register to
Photo: Götaplatsen @ Klas Eriksson

Annual Mayors` Conference and the 6th World Forum Against Drugs will take off on May 14-15 in Gothenburg this year.
This joint event will address a growing interest to the effective prevention practices, full recovery and alternatives to incarceration and to life-long dependency on drug treatment.
The conference will create a room for elaborating a practical guide to how a recovery city will look like, this will be grounded on the recent evidence-based research.
Sheffield Hallam University (UK), Ghent University (Belgium) and the City of Gothenburg have already started working on this guide in practice.

In order to find out more and to register please visit a joint webpage here.

 WFAD logo jpg  Logo Gothenburg


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ECAD 24th Mayors` Conference materials

On June 12-13, the city of Kaunas hosted ECAD 24th Annual Mayors`s Conference 2017

Safe Cities Without Drugs. Preventing, Protecting, Policing

Key-note speakers:

David W. Spencer, Field intelligence Manager, Drug Enforcement Agency, European Region

Supply reduction and dismantling drug trafficking organizations: In what ways can local communities benefit (PDF)

Kim Nilvall, Swedish National Bureau of Investigation, Intelligence section, Organized crime

Police work in socially disadvantaged areas in Sweden: Impact of drugs on urban crime (PDF)

 Torsten Stodiek, Deputy Head, Strategic Police Matters Unit, Community Policing Advisor, Transnational Threats Department, OSCE

Preventing terrorism and countering violent extremism and radicalisation that lead to terrorism:

A community and intelligence led policing approach (PDF)

Jon Sigfusson, Director for Icelandic Centre of Social Research and Analysis, Reykjavik University, ICSRA

Youth in Europe and Planet Youth (PDF)

Laimonas Vasiliauskas, Senior Specialist, Serious and Organized Crime Department, EUROPOL

European Illicit Drug Market (PDF)

 Antonio Boscini, Health Director, San Patrignano Community, Rimini, Italy

Recovery and social reinsertion: San Patrignano Community model extended (PDF)

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 Conference Booking Form

@ Rokas Tenys, the Kaunas Castle

Kaunas Castle
Picture: @Rokas Tenys

Warm welcome to Kaunas, Lithuania!

Archives of ECAD's mailed newsletters from 2003 until 2013. To subscribe to ECAD's new email-based newsletter, click here.
Official ECAD mission statements in six different European languages.
The ECAD Resolution, crafted at a conference to increase cooperation between cities, provides inspiration and hope for areas with particularly difficult drug problems. The signatories to the resolution will affirm their decision to fight against the spread of drugs.