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UN Program Seeks to Eradicate Marijuana by 2008 (2002-04-17)
On April 1, 2008, no doubt.
"The United Nations International Drug Control Program has announced plans to employ satellite technology as part of an effort to eradicate the cannabis plant, cocoa bush and opium poppy by 2008."

Pubdate: Mon, 15 Apr 2002
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2002 Southam Inc.
Author: Jim Bronskill
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Surveillance from Space: UN Program Seeks to Eradicate Marijuana by 2008

OTTAWA - The RCMP is studying a plan to enlist space satellites in the war
on illicit drugs.

The Mounties believe satellite technology could help detect and monitor
illegal marijuana production across Canada.

"It is something that is at the research and development stage to determine
if there is a practical application," said Sergeant Paul Marsh, an RCMP

A recent report by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission says
Canada is pursuing the idea as a new means of estimating the amount of
cannabis cultivated each year.

Current methods employed by Canada to make these calculations include
ground surveys, monitoring by airplane, and analysis of data from plant
seizure reports and crop-eradication programs, says the commission, an
agency of the Organization of American States that helps co-ordinate the
anti-drug efforts of the 34 member countries.

"Recently, Canada launched a new program involving the police and the
Canadian Space Agency to enhance detection and monitoring of illegal crop
production," says the commission report, an evaluation of Canada's
initiatives to stamp out illicit drugs.

A spokeswoman for Canada's space agency had no information about the plans
but Sgt. Marsh confirmed the idea was under consideration. "The RCMP is
committed to using technological advances which will assist us in reaching
our objective of safe homes and safe communities," he said.

He provided no details, saying, "it's really premature because it's at the
R and D stage."

RADARSAT, Canada's advanced Earth observation satellite, has been used to
measure legitimate crop fields, make accurate maps, study ice movement and
monitor the coastline. Using a system known as synthetic aperture radar,
the satellite is able to operate day or night in all types of weather.

The concept of using satellites in the fight against drugs is not new. The
United Nations International Drug Control Program has also announced plans
to employ satellite technology as part of an effort to eradicate the
cannabis plant, cocoa bush and opium poppy by 2008.

About half of the marijuana available in Canada is produced domestically,
the RCMP says. Conservative estimates indicate at least 800 tonnes of pot
is grown annually.

Surveillance of crops through airplane flights has proven useful to date,
Sgt. Marsh said.

"Obviously, there are advantages to aerial surveillance and that's why we
use aircraft at the present time. There are things that you can see from
the air, [because] you simply don't have the same perspective from the ground."

However, as the OAS commission report points out, even high-powered
satellites will not guarantee an accurate measure of Canadian cannabis

"Canada notes that a complete picture of marijuana cultivation is difficult
to obtain because a significant portion of cultivation is indoors," the
report says.

There has been a boom in indoor pot growing operations in recent years,
particularly in British Columbia, but also in the Prairie provinces,
Ontario and Quebec.

Many Canadian growers use high-tech equipment to electronically regulate
temperature, light and nutrients in hydroponic greenhouses. Marijuana grown
under these conditions contains a proportion of the psychoactive chemical
THC ranging from 15% to 25%, much higher than the naturally cultivated
plants of the 1970s.