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Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 22:32:18 -0600 (CST)
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: DRUGS: UN Blames Internet for Accessible Drug Info
Article: 56132
Message-ID: <bulk.14709.19990227181519@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 513.0 **/
** Topic: DRUGS: UN Blames Internet for Easy Drug Access//EMBARGOED// **
** Written 2:42 PM Feb 25, 1999 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **
Copyright 1999 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

UN Blames Internet for Easy Drug Access

By Thalif Deen, IPS
23 February 1999

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 23 (IPS) - The United Nations is blaming the world's information superhighway - the Internet - for providing drug users with relatively easy access to narcotic drugs.

"Online do-it-yourself guides that enable their readers to prepare and abuse controlled substances continue to proliferate on the Internet," says the latest annual report of the UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) released Tuesday.

The 67-page report stresses that many of the Internet home pages promoting drug use are located on servers in Canada and the United States. The 13-member INCB also warns that international and national regulatory controls are "increasingly being threatened by the misuse of emerging technologies such as the World Wide Web."

"Drugs of abuse and related paraphernalia are blatantly sold on Web sites," it adds.

The study urges all governments - in particular those that have allowed drug sites to flourish - to work in close cooperation with the Internet industry, community organisations, families and educators to set up a framework to discourage or ban drug abuse on the Internet.

The INCB says new technologies have become indispensable to the development of drug research and clinical practices. Additionally, criminal investigations, including the identification and determination of drugs of abuse and communication between competent control services, has been helped by the use of new technologies.

At the same time, however, the flow of electronic information also is being exploited more quickly and easily by criminal organisations, the report says.

"New drugs of abuse can be 'designed' without difficulty by 'manipulating' on a computer the molecules of drugs under the narcotics control regime, and methods used in illicit drug production or manufacture can be obtained from the Internet in a few minutes," the report says.

UN Under-Secretary-General Pino Arlacchi, head of the UN Drug Control Programme, says there are an estimated eight million drug addicts the world over.

"We need about a billion dollars a year for 10 years to eliminate narcotic crops completely," he told reporters last week.

He says at least three countries - Bolivia, Peru and Colombia - are fully committed to the goal of eradicating coca cultivation within their national boundaries during the next 10 years.

Arlacchi said that half of the 10 billion dollars needed to end narcotic crop growing will be spent by national governments themselves, while the balance will come from the international community in the form of loans and outright grants.

Last year, donor nations pledged more than 270 million dollars for the anti-drug war in Peru which has been earmarked for eliminate coca cultivation within the next 10 years and to provide alternate crops, says Arlacchi.

In its report, the INCB admits that illicit crop cultivation and illicit drug production, along with the manufacture and trafficking by criminal organisations, have "taken on enormous dimensions."

The Board says it is understandable that one of the frequently asked questions is whether it is still worthwhile to spend money on drug control in the context of a growing multi-billion dollar global trade in drugs.

"Would it not be more economical to do away with all drug regulations and other related efforts and to leave it to market- economy forces to regulate the situation at no cost to society?", the Board asks.

In the opinion of the Board, "this is the wrong question." "It is similar to questioning whether it is economical to prevent car accidents or to treat infectious diseases. History has shown that national and international control of drugs has proved to be an efficient tool for reducing the development of drug dependence and is therefore the choice to be made."

In November last year nearly 74 percent of Swiss voters decisively rejected a proposal to legalise marijuana, heroin and cocaine. The proposal was aimed at turning Switzerland into a virtual free-drugs zone in a country with more than 30,000 hard- drug addicts, one of the highest in Europe. (END/IPS/td/mk/99)

[c] 1999, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
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