Twenty years after a law authorized the U.S. to penalize countries that do not control illicit narcotics production, the same countries are producing large quantities of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs, says the New York Times, citing the State Department’s annual drug-trafficking report, published Friday. The U.S. has been providing anti-narcotics aid to more than a dozen nations for more than two decades, about $1 billion a year in recent years. Each year the government reports large-scale eradication of crops and seizures of illicit drugs. Every year, reports of progress are overwhelmed by the weight of the problem.
The State Department said in 1985 that in Peru, one of the world’s largest producers of coca leaf and cocaine products, the government had eradicated 7,500 acres of coca plants but that narcotics trafficking was “flourishing.” The new report says Peru eradicated almost 25,000 acres of coca in the last year but acknowledged that “dense coca cultivation is increasing.” “The trend lines are good,” insisted Assistant Secretary of State Robert B. Charles, referring to the last few years. “We are making steady progress in pushing it down.” Another report made public Friday, by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, showed that the number of Americans seeking treatment for marijuana use tripled from 1992 to 2002.