Newsbrief: Morocco Cannabis Production Booming, UN Drug Office Reports 12/19/03

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Cannabis cultivation is booming in Morocco, and European consumers are to blame, said Antonio Maria Costa, head of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as the international anti-drug agency issued a report Monday showing nearly 350,000 acres under production in the North African country this year. That crop is providing incomes for nearly 100,000 peasant farms and 800,000 people, UNDOC reported in its first Moroccan cannabis cultivation survey.

Morocco has long been famous for its hashish, consumed primarily in Western Europe, and the UNDOC estimates it will churn out more than 3,000 metric tons this year. In return, Moroccans will harvest an estimated $215 million in hash profits (compared to $12 billion for mostly European middlemen), or more than one-half of 1% of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

"In the past 20 years, cannabis cultivation has spread from the traditional areas in the central Rif, where it has been grown since the 15th century, to new areas," UNDOC reported. But it wasn't applauding an economic success story.

Instead, Costa used the occasion to decry the venerable crop. "Through its expansion, cannabis production threatens the environment of the Rif," he said. "Cannabis risks corrupting the social and economic structure and compromising any prospects of sustainable development there." The Moroccan hash boom resulted from the "spectacular expansion of drug consumption" in Europe since the 1970s, he added. Costa praised the Moroccan government for cooperating with the UNODC -- it actually allowed the survey to take place. "Morocco has acted with courage and exposed the extent of domestic cannabis cultivation. But the question must be addressed blending demand and supply measures. It is Europe's turn to focus especially on preventive measures, reducing cannabis consumption among the youth," he urged. "Cannabis causes most of the health damage of tobacco smoking," Costa bizarrely claimed. "Its active components cause paranoia and cognitive impairment," he added for good measure.

And provide half the income of Morocco's cannabis growing families, according to the report.

Visit http://www.unodc.org/unodc/Morocco/ to read the UNODC Illicit Crop Monitoring Program report, Morocco Cannabis Survey 2003.

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Issue #316, 12/19/03 Editorial: Why Prohibition Scares Me | Victory! Federal Appeals Court Rules Feds Can't Persecute Medical Marijuana Patients | Supreme Court Okays Arrest of All Occupants in Cars Where Unclaimed Drugs Are Found | Flex Your Rights in News -- New and Improved BUSTED Video Offer Available from DRCNet Too | Afghanistan: Drug War Yields to Terror War as Rumsfeld Glad-Hands Drug Dealing Warlords | Newsbrief: Georgia Deputy Kills Innocent Man in Highway Drug Stop | Newsbrief: Campaign Watch -- Kucinich Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: Morocco Cannabis Production Booming, UN Drug Office Reports | Newsbrief: Canadian Supreme Court to Rule Next Week on Key Marijuana Cases | Newsbrief: With National Parks Threatened, Colombia Fumigation Petition Drive Underway | Newsbrief: Nigerian Reefer Madness Breaks Out as Officials Blame Marijuana for Social Strife | Newsbrief: UN Drug Office Predicts Humanitarian Crisis as Myanmar Opium Ban Goes Into Effect | Announcement: New Hemp Nutrition Bar Supports Advocacy | DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | The Reformer's Calendar
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