Obviously, those countries aren't the ones driving the drug market. Illicit drugs enjoyed a robust $322 billion in retail sales in 2003, the U.N. reported, with 44% of that market, or about $142 billion, in North America, mostly the United States. That's an awful lot of lost tax revenue. This is the first time the U.N. has estimated the economic scope of the international drug trade.
Most astonishing: Illegal drugs constitute 14% of total world agricultural exports. That means, practically speaking, if the pipe dream of stopping the drug trade ever actually succeeded, much of the world economy from Bolivia to Afghanistan to Northern California would collapse into global depression. Reported Xinhuanet news:
The largest market is cannabis herb, valued at 113 billion dollars, followed by cocaine, the opiates and cannabis resin, valued at 71 billion dollar, 65 billion and 29 billion dollars respectively on retail level.
The amphetamine-type stimulant markets together amounted to 44 billion dollars, according to the report.
Related Update: The Moroccan government last month said 96,000 families, 2/3 of the rural population (clarification: in the "Rif" region of that country) are "dependent on cannabis cultivation" for a living.