- The Washington Times - Friday, October 10, 2003

The struggle against narco-trafficking has to be linked with the fight against terrorism, White House drug czar John P. Walters has said.

“I believe that violence and terror are associated with drug trade,” Mr. Walters said at a conference Thursday at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Drug-trafficking groups contribute to the financing of corruption and terrorism, said Mr. Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

He said the United States has to develop partnerships with countries to counter the effects of narco-trafficking.

In the 2003 National Drug Control Strategy, the Bush administration proposes spending $731 million to support counterdrug programs in South America.

Mr. Walters praised measures adopted by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe since his election in August last year.

“President Uribe has made unprecedented efforts to reduce the [drug] trade. He wants no drugs,” Mr. Walters said.

The drug czar said the United States shares much of the blame for drug trafficking because Americans use many illegal drugs.

“Mexico has suffered more than any other country, after Colombia, from the consumption of drugs in the U.S.,” he said.

Consumption of illegal drugs in the nation has decreased since 1979, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. But 7.1 percent of people 12 and older said in 2001 that they had consumed illicit drugs in the past 30 days, the organization said in a report.

About 5.4 percent of them reported using marijuana in that period, which makes pot the most widely used illegal drug in the country, the report said.

Sixty percent of the people treated for dependence on illegal drugs in the nation are marijuana addicts, Mr. Walters said Thursday.

Mr. Walters also said the permeability of national borders is a problem in the struggle against illegal drugs.

He criticized Canada, where a proposed law would end criminal penalties for possession of less than a half-ounce of pot.

He said this law would have not only domestic consequences, but also repercussions for Americans.

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