Meth cheaper than a Burger King meal in some parts of Asia, as demand for drug rises

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant

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The Independent Online

Asia’s growing methamphetamine problem means the drug is cheaper than a meal at Burger King in some countries, a UN study has revealed.

The report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has laid bare the rising demand for synthetic drugs in East and Southeast Asia and Oceania, as transnational criminal gangs take advantage of relaxed border restrictions between different states.

The region is home to one of the world’s largest synthetic drugs markets, which is dominated by the rising demand for meth, known locally as yaba or yama, according to researchers.

Meth, also known as crystal, chalk, and ice, is a highly addictive stimulant which produces intense euphoria. Abuse can lead to extreme weight loss, severe dental problems, and skin sores caused by scratching.

Between 2008 and 2013, police seizures of meth have quadrupled, from around 11 tons in 2008 to 48 tons in 2013.

On top of this, the seizures of the crystal form of the drug have doubled in that time, to around 14 tons in 2013. Meanwhile, the confiscation of tablets has risen eight-fold, from 30million in 2008 to 250million in 2013.

Methamphetamine is now so widespread that pills are now on average cheaper than a Whopper value meal at Burger King, which is sold for around $5 in the region, the Global Post reported. However, prices vary depending on how strictly policed an area is.

And those using the drug near Myanman’s Shan State, the turbulent area which produces much of Asia’s meth, can buy pills for as little as 50 US cents, a senior officer with an anti-government militia group based close to the Myanmar-China border told the GlobalPost.


“This significant increase might be partly the result of effective law enforcement measures, but also points to expanding production and trafficking to and through the region” Tun Nay Soe, Programme Coordinator for the UN’s Global SMART Programme, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, the preliminary data we have received for the past year indicates that supply and demand have continued to rise for both types of methamphetamine,” he added.