VIENNA The United Nations narcotics board (INCB) warned that the production and consumption of cocaine had increased in South America, according to the 2016 annual report published on Thursday.
The organization said that, according to Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) data, drug use among secondary school students in South America was now higher than in North America, with the countries with the largest amounts of consumption among that demographic being Argentina, Chile and Colombia.
However, among the general population, levels of cocaine abuse were similar between the two continental blocks.
The abuse of coca paste is concentrated in South America, and the annual prevalence of cocaine abuse continues to increase, although cannabis remains the most widely used controlled substance in the region, read the report.
It added that cocaine production in Colombia had increased, from 69,000 hectares (170,000 acres) of coca bushes in 2014 to 96,000 in 2016 a 39 percent jump.
The increase was believed to be due to the expectations generated by the peace process between the government and the FARC militias that may have encouraged farmers to grow coca in the hope of benefiting from alternative development programs.
INCB president Werner Sipp told EFE that he believed the peace efforts would nonetheless improve the fight against drug use in the area, as the deal included a chapter dedicated to drug problems that sought to eradicate trafficking, strengthen borders and apply laws more efficiently.