Illicit drugs are a major global commodity. This commodity, like cotton, tea, and coffee, was born in the days of empire-building and mercantile expansion. Just as most countries in the world now drink tea and coffee and use cotton, virtually every country has a drug problem. It is perhaps the most significant cultural and health phenomenon of the late twentieth century. Behind it are such diverse factors as poverty, war, demographic change, trends in fashion and taste, unemployment, drought and natural disasters, ethnic traditions, politics and economics.
Harvard Asia Quarterly, Jun 2002