Pubdate: Wed, 17 Dec 2003
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Copyright: 2003 Tahoe Daily Tribune
Author: William Ferchland
Note: Photo - Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune CAMP Commander Val Jimenez, 
left, looks on as John Walters, the Director of National Drug Control 
Policy speaks on the dangers that illegal drugs pose to young people in the 
United States.
Bookmark: (Walters, John)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Marijuana Use Among Teens, Potency Escalate

Youths are more dependent on marijuana than cigarettes or alcohol, 
provoking the White House drug czar to call for drug testing at middle and 
high schools.

John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, made 
the statement during a keynote speech at a conference attended by members 
of the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting at Embassy Suites on Tuesday 
night. Walters said school drug testing would not be used to punish 
children, but the results can be used for rehabilitation and education. 
Drug testing is used for Fortune 500 executives, pilots and law 
enforcement. It will work for teenagers, Walters told the dinner crowd of 
about 240.

Referencing a short PowerPoint presentation, Walters said marijuana use 
among 12- to 17-year-olds is higher than any other drug. When surveyed, 42 
percent of the nation's youth in that age range said they had used 
marijuana the prior month, he said.

"Marijuana is the largest need for treatment needs," he said. "Not only is 
it a gateway, but a dead end for young people."

The drug czar, appointed in December 2001 by President Bush, said 
advertisements will continue about the dangers of drug use. Television ads 
after the September 2001 terrorist attacks focused on revenues from 
marijuana having aided anti-American efforts.

"Those who were using hated those ads," Walters said. "Those who suffered, 
especially our neighbors in Mexico and Colombia, said it was about time." 
The drug czar did not mention that drug offenders should serve time for 
their crime.

When he was appointed, Walters was known for his stance that users should 
receive jail sentences rather than treatment. Walters was unavailable for 
comment afterward.

He was whisked away by Secret Service to catch a flight back to Washington, 
D.C. The crowd was full of military officials, undercover agents with 
goatees and long hair and clean-cut law enforcement officers.

CAMP is a multi-agency task force that concentrates on the eradication of 
marijuana farms on California land. It comprises 70 local, state and 
federal organizations. This year a record 466,054 plants were seized, 
breaking the goal of 352,000. The wholesale value was estimated at $1.9 

Seventy-five percent of the seized crop was being grown on public land. 
Before the event Val Jimenez, CAMP director, said El Dorado County is not a 
major location for outdoor cultivation, but added, the "potential is there, 
no doubt." Outdoor planting at South Shore is relatively minuscule.

The elevation and winter temperatures make it a foolish endeavor. Chris 
Elliott, the task force commander for SLEDNET, South Shore's drug 
enforcement agency, said most growing occurs indoors.

The foothills of El Dorado County are more likely to have outdoor marijuana 
gardens, although figures released by the California attorney general's 
office did not include El Dorado in a 2003 list of plant seizures by 
county. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer said if any plants 
were seized by CAMP officials this year in El Dorado County, the number was 
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