Canada admits it's a top ecstasy supplier

Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:54pm EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is one of the top three world suppliers of the psychedelic drug ecstasy, and a significant supplier of marijuana to the United States, the government admitted on Friday.

A survey of organized crime by Criminal Intelligence Services Canada found that Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium were the primary sources of ecstasy, an illegal drug that's popular at clubs, raves and rock concerts.

"Canada continues to be a major producer for both domestic and international markets, exporting significant quantities primarily to the U.S. and to a lesser extent, Japan, Australia and New Zealand," the report said.

Echoing U.S. concern, it noted ecstasy was now being made with larger quantities of the more-addictive methamphetamine, or meth, than was the case in the past, making the drug more dangerous.

The annual report said organized crime was involved extensively at all levels of producing, distributing and exporting Canadian marijuana.

But it noted that Canadian marijuana met only "a small proportion" of U.S. supply, compared to domestic U.S. production and drugs imported from Mexico.

Police figures estimate that Canada produces as much as 3,500 tons of marijuana a year, most of it grown in British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario. But the 2006 report said marijuana seizures had fallen since 2003, in part because growers have exported their "technical expertise" to set up grow-ops in the Unites States.

Friday's latest report, compiled with the assistance of law enforcement agencies across the country, also estimated that 22 percent of all cigarettes smoked in Canada are illegal, perhaps smuggled into the country to avoid heavy excise duties.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Janet Guttsman)

 
<p>Plastic bags with ecstasy pills are seen after a raid in a laboratory in Haarlem January 31, 2007. REUTERS/Koen van Weel</p>