Criminals are growing marijuana in Cambodia and shipping other illegal drugs through the country, but recent government crackdowns are helping to stem the tide, a top drug official told a drug control seminar last week.
Em Sam An, secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, told the National Seminar on Drug Control in Cambodia that the country is making every effort to fight illegal drugs.
“But the issues on drugs are very complicated, therefore we need solidarity in all nationalities, all political parties, [and] religious groups,’’ in addition to international cooperation, he said.
Em Sam An said crops of marijuana had been discovered in Kompong Cham and Kandal provinces, as well as isolated forest areas in Kampot, Koh Kong, and Preah Vihear provinces.
“But after a number of crackdown operations, especially the direct involvement of Prime Minister [Hun Sen], the cultivation of marijuana has been significantly decreased,’’ he said.
In February, two high-profile crackdowns were made by top military and police officials on marijuana plantations in Kampot province. Military officials touted the crackdowns as examples that drug production will no longer be tolerated in Cambodia.
Em Sam An acknowledged other drugs, including heroin, opium, amphetamines and methamphetamines such as Ecstasy, are being transported along the Thai and Laotian borders and are “flooding Cambodia.’’
Increasingly, he said, such drugs are being sold in night clubs, hotels and casinos, as well as to children who live in the streets.
One survey of 2,000 street children found that half sniff glue, and that glue sniffing among girls has increased 44 percent. Em Sam An said drug use is heaviest among children in Phnom Penh.
He appealed to the UN and other international organizations to help build rehabilitation centers for addicts.
Cambodia also recently asked the US Drug Enforcement Agency to boost efforts to help Cambodia stamp out the drug trade.