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Caribbean urged to do more to fight illegal drugs

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Bridgetown Barbados July 25: Regional crime fighting bodies have been urged to do more to control the spread of illegal drugs throughout the region. This was revealed in the Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2005. In the Report, it was stressed that the region remained a major transshipment point in the spread of narcotics in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in the Americas.

While extensive coastal areas and difficult terrain may to some extent explain the situation, persistent, negative social factors, such as high unemployment and institutional weaknesses, have played a major role as well. It is estimated that a large part of the 300 tons of cocaine entering the United States each year has passed through Central America and the Caribbean, the Report stressed.

Contributing to the problem, which the Governments in the region continue to face, is the lack of the actual implementation of plans to curb the drug spread. This was blamed primarily on the lack of human and financial resources. The Report also stated that many countries in the region have yet to complete epidemiological studies on the level or the impact of drugs on their individual societies.

It was also stated that the level of drugs passing through the region continues to be significant. It was stated that the estimated drug hauls in the region including Central America was about 30 tonnes a year. The total volume of cannabis seized has increased in Central America but declined in the Caribbean.

In 2004, the largest total volume of cannabis seized (1,700 tons) was reported by Trinidad and Tobago. Cannabis is produced in Central America and the Caribbean but on a small scale, mainly for local consumption. Jamaica continues to be the main country in the region that is producing and exporting cannabis on a larger scale. The region was praised for the fact that the rate of cocaine abuse is low, but it is increasing in Central America and this was a cause for concern.

The recently released 2006 World Drug Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime maintained that the abuse of cannabis remained a major challenge globally. A global blind-spot has developed around cannabis, it stressed, adding that the plant had been transformed to something more potent than it had been in the past, the Report noted.

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