US equals Colombia in cannabis production
US production of marijuana now equals that of Colombia, according to the annual report of the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The report finds that the US and Colombia each produced some 4,000 metric tons of cannabis last year. Morocco is the world leader at 44,000 metric tons, followed by Paraguay at 16,500 metric tons and Mexico at 15,800. Production in Mexico is down from 25,800 metric tons in 2007, when it occupied second place after Morocco. The Mexican government boasts of eradicating 18,652 hectares of marijuana in 2008. A much higher proportion of the US crop is indoor—an estimated 430,000 plants, compared to 6.6 million outdoor. (El Diario, Ciudad Juárez, July 17)
English-language accounts emphasized the more optimistic news from the UNODC report. Global production of coca hit a five-year low at 845 tons despite some increased cultivation in Peru and Bolivia. The estimated cost of the world's illicit drug market is about $320 billion, UNODC director Antonio Maria Costa told AP. "This makes drugs one of the most valuable commodities in the world. The proceeds of drug-related crime are of macro-economic proportions."
Roughly 167 million people use marijuana at least occasionally, the report found. (AP, June 24)