Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Trade in prohibited narcotics and other psychoactive drugs is today the illegal activity with the largest turnover worldwide. According to the United Nations International Drug Control Program (UNDCP), this turnover varies between $300 and $500 billion yearly, corresponding to 8 percent of the international trade volume (UNDCP 1997a: 123–124). Scholars, however, consider this estimate excessive, up to ten times the actual figure. Relying on data on American expenditures on illicit drugs (ONDCP 2001), Peter Reuter convincingly argues that consumers in the United States and Western Europe yearly spend about $120 billion to buy illicit drugs, and he assumes a total of $30 billion for the developing world. Following this down-to-earth calculation, a total world consumer expenditure of $150 billion on illicit drugs seems a reasonable estimate. The international trade component of drug sales is, however, much smaller. For all commodities, in fact, this component is calculated on the basis of ...