Illicit drug production and use in Asia occurs on a massive scale - the amount of illicit drugs produced, especially heroin and amphetamine-type substances, is measurable in many tonnes per year and the numbers of people using and dependent on illicit drugs run into the millions across the region. Issues of such magnitude challenge the capacity of developed nations, let alone those that are attempting to hasten social and economic development, often from a low base. Policy development concerning illicit drugs has not kept pace with the development of the drug trade or with changing patterns of drug consumption in the regions. Policy has generally been reactive, and on the whole uninformed by evidence or understanding of the phenomena involved. The policy approaches have commonly proved less than effective, to the detriment of approaches that promise more impact. This generally happens against a backdrop of inadequate public debate, around a subject that is politically contentious, domestically and internationally.
The body of this report provides a brief summary of the current illicit drug use situation, country responses to illicit drug issues, and Australian and international involvement in relation to illicit drugs for each country. More detailed analysis about each country, complete with referencing, is contained in Appendix A; and Australian and international project information, available at the time of the research, is outlined in Appendix B. The executive summary gives a broad overview of these data with findings for Asia and the Pacific presented separately.