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United State's Drug Policy in the Western Hemisphere

NCJ Number
John Walters
Date Published
October 2003
70 pages
This transcript of an address by John Walters, the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, reviews progress in countering drug trafficking throughout the world and answers questions from the audience.
Walters first considers the status of suppression efforts against drug trafficking in the Western Hemisphere. Colombia, which is responsible for 70 percent of overall coca cultivation, has made significant progress under President Uribe in reducing the cocaine trade. President Uribe wants no drugs produced or shipped from Colombia. The destruction of coca fields and the targeting of armed groups involved in drug smuggling have significantly reduced cocaine production and trafficking. During President Uribe's term, over 100,000 hectares of coca fields have been sprayed, and any replanting is with plants that are not as productive. In Mexico, major drug trafficking organizations have increasingly become dominated by Mexican leadership housed in Mexico. The Fox government, however, has made historic commitments to target these organizations, and these commitments have been honored. Trends in Canada, on the other hand, are not as optimistic. Up to 90 percent of the high potency marijuana being grown in Canada is being shipped to the United States, and Canada has been the single largest supplier of pseudoephedrine for the making of methamphetamine for the United States market. Current Canadian law is inadequate for addressing these problems. Walters' discussion of drug abuse and drug trafficking in Europe focuses on the policy of harm reduction and the application of the medical model. He argues that the encouragement of drug consumption in many European countries is not matched with adequate treatment resources, such that drug users have insufficient access to detoxification and serious treatment. Walters sees a reactive trend toward more direct control of addictive substances. Walters also discusses the threat of marijuana and other cannabis products in Africa, the growth of synthetic drugs in parts of eastern Asia, and the challenge of opiate production and trafficking in Afghanistan and its connection to terrorism.