HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html U.N. Body Criticizes Canada Over Drug Controls
Pubdate: Wed, 21 Feb 2001
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2001 The Toronto Star
Contact:  One Yonge St., Toronto ON, M5E 1E6
Fax: (416) 869-4322
Author: Lisa Schlein


The United Nations' International Narcotics Control Board has criticized
Canada for its lax attitude toward illegal growers of cannabis and failure
to control illicit production of drugs such as ``ice'' and ``ecstasy.''

In its annual report released last night, the board says Canadian courts
have been issuing sentences to cannabis growers and couriers that
essentially amounted to just a slap on the wrist.

Canadian law enforcement agencies make a lot of effort to eradicate
cannabis, Herbert Schaepe, the board's secretary, said in an interview.

But people who illegally grow cannabis ``get very, very low sentences and we
wonder whether that policy is a sufficient deterrent to get people not to
cultivate cannabis,'' he said.

The report singles out cannabis, the plant from which marijuana is derived,
as ``the most common drug of abuse'' in Canada, Mexico and the United

A major concern to law enforcement agencies in these countries is the spread
of hydroponically grown cannabis with a high content of THC, or

While the United States has had successes in dealing with illicit cannabis,
the U.N. report notes Canada's efforts had yielded only limited results.

In addition to being smuggled into the country on a large scale, cannabis is
also cultivated within Canada with annual production at about 800 tonnes -
60 per cent of which may be smuggled into the United States, it says.

British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec are among the places where cannabis
with a high THC content is grown indoors in Canada.

The report also finds a disturbing increase in the production and abuse of
synthetic drugs in Canada.

The illicit manufacture of methamphetamine - or ``ice'' - has increased, it
says. In the past year, law enforcement agencies have uncovered a record
number of clandestine labs.

Some labs producing MDMA - or ``ecstasy'' - were found in middle-class
suburban neighbourhoods, especially in central Canada.

``The laboratories were run by people with no criminal records or
connections,'' says the report.

``The board is not happy with the controls established in Canada,'' Schaepe

The board is calling on Canada to make greater efforts to comply with its
obligations, under the 1988 U.N. convention against illicit drugs.

This is to prevent ``Canadian territory from being used to divert chemicals
for the illicit manufacture of drugs in other countries.''

The U.N. report says there has been an increase in the amount of cocaine and
heroin smuggled into Canada from countries such as Mexico.

Last year, Canadian law enforcement agencies intercepted 156 kilograms of
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