27 million problem drug users worldwide: UN

 VIENNA - Some 27 million people worldwide are problem drug users, with almost one percent of them dying every year from narcotics abuse and cannabis still the most popular drug, a United Nations (UN) report showed on Tuesday.

'Heroin, cocaine and other drugs continue to kill around 200,000 people a year, shattering families and bringing misery to thousands of other people, insecurity and the spread of HIV,' director Yury Fedotov said as he presented the 2012 World Drug Report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Global production and use of illegal drugs remained relatively stable in 2011, the report found.

However, this masked shifts in trafficking and consumption that were 'significant and also worrying... because they are proof of the resilience and adaptability of illicit drug suppliers and users', the UNODC warned.

Cannabis remained the most widely used drug with up to 224 million users worldwide, although production figures were hard to obtain, the agency said.

Europe was the biggest market for cannabis resin, most of it coming from Morocco, although Afghanistan is becoming a major supplier and domestic production in Europe is also rising, the UNODC said.

'Most European Union member states (are) reporting the cultivation of cannabis herb to be a phenomenon that appears to be on the increase,' the report added, noting the increasing involvement of organised crime.

Opium production in Afghanistan, the world's biggest producer with 90 per cent of the global share, meanwhile jumped by 61 per cent in 2011 to 5.8 million kg from 3.6 million kg in 2010, when the crop was hit by disease.