Mexico's president says Mexican students will be tested in school for illegal drug use.

President Felipe Calderon said Monday that 8,000 schools will participate in the first stage of what could become a nationwide program. Parents will have to give their permission for the testing.

Speaking in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, Mr. Calderon said the program will not punish students, but will help them to overcome drug problems. He called for a "permanent monitoring of students' health" in order to detect addictions and act immediately.

Mexican drug smugglers ship billions of dollars worth of cocaine and marijuana into the United States each year. Government studies show that drug consumption in Mexico has risen in recent years, but is still far below U.S. levels.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.