Monday

5th Dec 2016

Denmark easiest place in EU to buy heroin

  • Heroin den. Almost all young people agree the drug is dangerous and should be against the law (Photo: deadmind)

Denmark, Spain and Italy are the easiest countries in the EU for young people to get hold of hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin, while the Czech Republic is the EU cannabis capital.

The information comes from a European Commission survey on 15 to 24 year olds' attitudes to drug use carried out in May and published on Monday (11 July).

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One in four young people in Denmark, Italy and Spain told the poll it would be "very easy" or "fairly easy" to obtain heroin if given 24 hours. The same countries came top of the cocaine access table, with around 40 percent saying it is easy to get hold of the drug.

Ireland, Portugal and the UK also scored highly.

The Czech republic, which had among the lowest availabilities of hard drugs, came top of the marijuana table, however.

Seventy five percent of young Czechs said it is easy to get cannabis - a higher level than recorded even in the Netherlands (69%), where the drug is openly sold in licensed cafes.

About one in four young people has tried marijuana, with opinion varying (33% in the Netherlands to 87% in Romania) on whether it should be illegal. The vast majority said heroin and cocaine should be against the law. But almost one in two said occasional cocaine use poses no great risk.

Almost everybody said it is "very easy" to get hold of alcohol despite laws against under-age drinking in most member states.

Part of the survey was devoted to 'legal highs' - synthetic drugs which imitate the effects of banned substances.

Most young people in the union (over 90% in all cases, except Ireland on 84%) said they have never used them. But commission research shows the number of products is multiplying, with 41 new types emerging on the market last year.

In some cases health risks have not been proved. But EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding on Monday declared war on legal highs, saying she will in autumn propose new rules designed to curb sales.

"New synthetic drugs are becoming widely available at an unprecedented pace in Europe. They can be toxic, addictive and have long-term adverse effects ... We need to act at EU level and protect our children," she said.

The commission initiative coincides with action at member state level.

The Polish government last year brought in legislation to shut down 'head shops' - high street outlets which sell legal highs and drug paraphernalia. France last week made 'poppers' - an amyl nitrate solution which gives a head rush if inhaled and can be used to enhance sexual pleasure - a prescription-only substance.

Focus

Anti-HIV measures failing in EU, says WHO

Rates of infection have stayed constant for a decade in the EU, though there has been a massive surge in Russia apparently caused by drug users sharing needles.

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