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Opium production worldwide uses nearly as much land as Rhode Island

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Land use for the illicit cultivation of opium hit a new high last year, with fields expanding by more than one-third in Afghanistan alone, the United Nations said today. In its annual World Drug Report, the UN says that Afghanistan accounted for up to 80 percent of the world's opium production in 2013, a major setback after seeing a production dip in the country during the late 2000s. Global land use for cultivation is now at over 733,000 acres — not much smaller than the entirety of Rhode Island.

The report also addresses the global availability and use of other illegal drugs. Marijuana use, it found, has actually decreased worldwide but risen in the US, likely due to a broad perception that it has lower health risks. Cocaine use remained high in the US, though it's continued to dip alongside global availability. The report also found that five percent of the world's population (between the ages of 15 and 64) used an illegal drug in 2012. That same year, 0.6 percent of the population — about 27 million people in total — were found to be "problem drug users."