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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 August 2006, 22:51 GMT 23:51 UK
Mexican drugs 'grown in US parks'
By Nicholas Rocha
BBC News

Marijuana crop - library picture
Mexican cartels are using US national parks, Washington says
Washington has promised action against Mexican drug-traffickers who the US says are growing billions of dollars of marijuana in US national parks.

Mexican cartels controlled 80% of the marijuana grown in forest and mountain areas, drugs tsar John Walters said.

He blamed thecartels for much of the expansion of the crop, in particular in public lands such as national parks.

Every American should be outraged that national parks were being turned into centres of drug production, he said.

But growing marijuana in the US is not entirely a new phenomenon, despite it being illegal for more than 70 years.

Cash crop

According to the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml), back in 1998 US-grown marijuana was thought to be among the top five cash crops in the country, with an estimated value of over $10bn (5.3bn).

Five years later, it was estimated that the value of US marijuana crops could be as high as $25bn.

That figure, if correct, would make it more valuable that the country's largest legal cash crop, which is maize and produces about $19bn in revenue.

Traditionally, most of the trade has taken place in California because of its warm climate, but now American experts say it is expanding rapidly to other states in the north and east and even to Hawaii.

Perhaps more worrying, much of this expansion has been on public lands.


SEE ALSO
Mexico alters extradition rules
30 Nov 05 |  Americas
US anti-drug campaign 'failing'
06 Aug 04 |  Americas
Mexican drugs 'hit man' arrested
25 Jun 04 |  Americas
Mexico's most feared family
08 Jun 00 |  Americas

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