HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html UN Official.
Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jun 2006
Source: Khaleej Times (UAE)
Copyright: 2006 Khaleej Times
Cited: UNODC's 2006 World Drug Report
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Walters, John)


WASHINGTON - Marijuana use worldwide is "out of control" because it
grows everywhere, is in high demand and erroneously is considered by
many to be harmless, a senior United Nations official said on Monday.

Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office
on Drugs and Crime, highlighted the marijuana problem at a news
conference as he released his office's 2006 World Drug Report.

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a danger because it contains
increasingly potent amounts of THC, a banned substance, Costa said.

While governments around the world generally have succeeded in
containing use of heroin, cocaine and amphetamines, Costa said
marijuana is a different story.

Marijuana, he said, "is out of control."

"It's out of control in supply because it's a weed; it grows
everywhere. It's out of control in demand because it's erroneously
considered a light drug."

John Walters, head of the White House Office of National Drug Control
Policy, agreed that marijuana is "a massive global problem."

"It's not just a gateway, it is a dead end as well as an opening for
many other people who go on and use other things, and are polydrug
users. It has been for a long time," said Walters, who joined Costa at
the news conference.

The UN report released by Costa generally was upbeat, boasting gains -
including that opium poppy cultivation was down 22 percent in 2005.

On the negative side, the report found that cocaine use is reaching
alarming levels in Western Europe.

It attributed the decline in opium poppy cultivation to cutbacks in
the three main source countries of illicit opium in the world:
Afghanistan, Myanmar and Laos. Opium is the main ingredient for heroin.

"In Afghanistan, in 2005, opium poppy cultivation decreased for the
first time since 2001," the report said. Still, it said, that country
accounted for 89 percent of opium production worldwide.

The State Department's annual report on illicit drugs, issued in
March, acknowledged that opium production is hampering
democracy-building efforts in Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan's huge drug trade severely impacts efforts to rebuild the
economy, develop a strong democratic government based on rule of law,
and threatens regional stability," the report said.

Despite the sharp decrease in the total area under cultivation in all
opium-producing countries, the UN report said production was down only
5 percent due to more favorable weather conditions during the 2005
growing season in Afghanistan.

"The world's supply of opium has shrunk, but in an unbalanced way,"
the study said. "Within a few years, Asia's notorious Golden Triangle,
once the world's narcotics epicenter, could become opium-free. But in
Afghanistan, while the area under opium cultivation decreased in 2005,
the country's drug situation remains vulnerable to reversal. This
could happen as early as 2006."

Assessing the gamut of illicit drugs, from heroin to cocaine as well
as marijuana, amphetamines and ecstasy, the report concluded: "Drug
control is working, and the world drug problem is being contained."

Levels of drug cultivation and drug addiction are much lower than they
were 100 years ago, it said.

"Even more importantly, in the past few years, worldwide efforts to
reduce the threat posed by illicit drugs have effectively reversed a
quarter-century-long rise in drug abuse that, if left unchecked, could
have become a global pandemic," the report added.
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