The use of methamphetamine and other stimulant drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines are below the EU average in Cyprus with cannabis remaining the number one drug of choice on the island in 2022, according to the drugs squad Ykan.

Ykan deputy director of ops Stelios Serghides, told CNA that in 2022, the unit investigated 1,017 drug cases involving 1,084 people.

He said 348kg cannabis were seized, almost 38kg of cocaine, over 4kg of methamphetamine and 1.5kg of synthetic substances were seized.

Cannabis remains the number one substance in seizures and use, followed by cocaine, he said.

“The use of methamphetamine, our country is five to 20 times below the average of the cities that participated in a European survey. In 2021, it was most used in Paphos and parts of Nicosia mainly on the weekends,” Serghides said.

According to the Ykan official, compared with previous years, there was a decrease in methamphetamine use in almost all cities. In relation to the use of other stimulants such as cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamine, he noted that Cyprus was among the lowest in the European ranking.

The highest levels of these narcotic substances measured in Cyprus were found in the Ayia Napa-Paralimni area. Compared to previous years and the same periods (April), the use of ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamine was at lower levels, with the exception of Ayia Napa, which showed higher concentrations on the weekend, he added.

Regarding cannabis compared to previous years, there was a decrease in cannabis concentrations in some cities and an increase in cannabis concentrations in Nicosia and mainly in Limassol during the weekends.

Regarding the death rate from drugs, Serghides said that in 2019, five deaths were recorded, of which two were Cypriots and three were foreigners. In 2020, there were six deaths of which five were foreigners and one was a Cypriot and in 2021 there were 11 deaths of which seven were foreigners and four were Cypriots.

According to Serghides, the European cannabis policy framework was becoming increasingly complex. He also said that the appearance of hemp products, including extracts and odorants containing THC and CBD, has an impact on the Cypriot market. There was also an increase in the THC content of cannabis and the spread of synthetic cannabinoids.

Serghides noted that in order to address and resolve the complex policy issues in the field of addictive substances, a balanced and documented understanding of the problem is required.

Regarding future policies and strategies, he referred to the conduct of financial investigations for the seizure and freezing of assets that are the product of criminal actions. He also referred to the adoption of regulations for the cultivation, distribution and prescription of medicinal cannabis.