Newsbrief: Bush Warns of Canada Drug Threat, Whistles Past Afghan Opium Fields 9/24/04

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President George Bush used the publication of the annual State Department list of major drug-producing or trafficking countries September 16 to single out Canada for criticism over its possible decriminalization of marijuana and lack of severe punishment for pot offenders, even though Canada is not even on the list of "majors." At the same time, Bush soft-pedaled "concerns" about opium production in Afghanistan, which has skyrocketed under the US-installed government of President Hamid Karzai -- which is on the list.

"While the vast majority of illicit drugs entering the United States continues to come from South America and Mexico, the President expressed his continuing concerns about the flow of illicit drugs from Canada," said a statement issued jointly by the White House and the State Department. The statement noted Canada's efforts to suppress methamphetamine precursor chemicals and address cross-border marijuana smuggling, but warned that "we are concerned the lack of significant judicial sanctions against marijuana producers is resulting in greater involvement in the burgeoning marijuana industry by organized criminal groups."

At a White House press briefing the same day, Bush spokesman Scott McLellan quoted the president as saying he was also "concerned" that pending legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana "could be an invitation to greater activity by organized crime and can undermine law enforcement and prosecutorial efforts."

Afghanistan, which now accounts for roughly 75% of the world's opium, barely merited a mention. In the second to the last paragraph of the statement, well below the Canadian "threat," the US ally got one sentence: "Despite good faith efforts on the part of the central Afghanistan Government, the President reported his concerns about the increased opium crop production and the Government's lack of capacity to prevail in the provinces." Bush did not explain how incorporating warlords who make a fortune from the opium trade into the government constituted a "good faith" effort to stamp out the opium trade. (See and links provided there for background.)

In other news of the "majors," Thailand was removed from the list, with the administration citing a drop in opium production and heroin processing there, while the US-installed regime in Haiti was cited as making progress. Bush sharply criticized Myanmar (Burma), naming it as the only country on the list that had failed to demonstrate its commitment to anti-drug activities. Bush also harshly attacked political foe North Korea, which is not on the list, over its alleged involvement in heroin and methamphetamine trafficking.

The following 22 countries were named as major drug-producing or transiting countries: Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Read the "Annual Presidential Determination of Major Drug-Producing and Drug-Transit Countries" at online.

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Issue #355, 9/24/04 Editorial: The Moral Choice is Clear | With New Sentencing Legislation Pending in Congress, Church Leaders Urge an End to Mandatory Minimums | Patients, Doctors, Supporters Head to Washington to Demand Rescheduling of Marijuana as a Medicine | For Second Year, John W. Perry Fund Helps Students with Drug Convictions Afford College | DRCNet Interview: Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate | DRCNet Book Review: "Patients in The Crossfire: Casualties in The War On Medical Marijuana," by Americans For Safe Access | Action Alert: Still Time to Contact Judiciary Committee Members About HEA Drug Provision | Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Signs Syringe Access Bill, Vetoes NEP Bill | Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill Barring High School Drug Testing | Newsbrief: New Jersey Needle Exchange Bill on Fast Track, Passes First Hurdle | Newsbrief: Former Child Actor Macauley Culkin Busted for Drugs in All-Too-Typical Cave-In to Police Search Request | Newsbrief: Montel Williams Show Brings Medical Marijuana Issue to the Masses | Newsbrief: Bush Warns of Canada Drug Threat, Whistles Past Afghan Opium Fields | Newsbrief: Guatemala Seeks More Anti-Drug Money from United States | Newsbrief: Decades of Colombian Drug War Brings... New, More Efficient Drug Organizations | Newsbrief: Narc Hates Free Publicity | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: British Drug Policy Think Tank Says Government Abandoned Planned Heroin Maintenance Expansion | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

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