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)

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  1. Colombianization of the Emerald Triangle?
    From Northern California’s Redding Record-Searchlight, June 26:

    Two charged in Lassen County marijuana garden gun battle
    SACRAMENTO – A pair of south San Francisco Bay area men were charged Friday with shooting at law enforcement officers in a gunfight last week near Little Valley that left two Lassen County deputies wounded and a suspected marijuana grower dead.

    Jose Alfredo Zepeda, 19, of East Palo Alto and Clemente Ferrias Arroyo, 62, of Morgan Hill were charged by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Sacramento at a hearing there with shooting at law enforcement officers during a drug crime and growing more than 1,000 marijuana plants, said Lauren Horwood, office spokeswoman.

    Officers with the Bureau of Land Management, Lassen County Sheriff’s Office and the Susanville Police Department were investigating a large outdoor marijuana garden on June 16 near Little Valley – just across the Lassen County line east of Burney – when they encountered Zepeda, Arroyo and Juan Carlos Herrera-Chavez, Horwood said. The garden was on land managed by the BLM.

    Herrera-Chavez started shooting at the officers with an AK-47 assault rifle, wounding Sgt. Dave Martin and deputy David Woginrich. In the ensuing gunbattle, officers killed Herrera-Chavez. A helicopter flew Martin to Mercy Medical Center in Redding while Woginrich was treated for his minor wound in the field.

    Both the Lassen deputies are expected to survive their wounds, Horwood said.