Monday, December 25, 2006

Spain tops U.S. in cocaine use

Dec. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Spain overtook the U.S. as the country with the highest proportion of cocaine users as the Iberian nation's economic growth made the drug more affordable.

Three percent of Spaniards aged between 15 and 64 had cocaine over the past year, the government said in a report last week. That beats the U.S. for the first time and is the highest among countries that have reliable statistics, said Thomas Pietschmann, an analyst at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna.

Cocaine, once a vice of the rich, is now affordable for more people in Spain. The country's economy, which grew at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the third quarter, is set to expand faster than the euro area for a 12th year in 2006. Spain is also Europe's main entry for the drug because of ties with cocaine-producing former colonies such as Colombia. More.

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