Climate Lessons from Cambodia’s Illegal MDMA Market

Cambodia’s experience with MDMA production provides important lessons about managing the environmental repercussions of illicit drug production, which are particularly important in the wake of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) that occurred earlier this month.

As evident by the UNODC’s collaborative event at COP27, discussions of the intersectional nature of climate change and drug policy solutions are still fledgling, yet increasingly important to address.

Cambodia’s natural abundance of trees within the cinnamomum genus has made it a hotspot for MDMA production. The Phnom Samkos Sanctuary, in the Cardamom Mountains, is home to almost all mreah prew phnom trees. For drug producers, these trees present an excellent opportunity to produce high-grade Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) by extracting their safrole-rich oils. This is done by uprooting the tree, dismembering, shredding, and finally boiling its roots for 12 hours.

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