Drug prohibitionists have recently suggested we’re succeeding in stopping the flow of cocaine into the country because of billions spent eradicating coca crops in Columbia. Many of us guessed they were wrong and now the proof is in. Cocaine production is at an all-time high. In a new report the DEA provides the details. The above graph shows hectares affected from 2007 to 2016. A hectare is 2.5 acres.
We were never close to stopping the illegal trafficking of cocaine. We managed a 53 percent decrease in coca cultivation with the help of the Colombian government using manual and aerial eradication, between 2007 and 2012. That sounds like some level of success in the war on drugs. But, that’s like, after a mud bath, getting half clean and calling the shower successful. There was still more than enough coca being produced to meet demand in the U.S.
Colombia still had 200,000 acres of coca plants. Then they halted efforts and production rocketed back up to more than double–to well over 400,000 acres by 2016.
The economics of cocaine trafficking are just too compelling to end it through such methods. The profit margins for the cartels and smugglers beat any business you can name. The remote Colombian farmer can’t make enough on food production. Even if he has a truck to transport his produce, he likely doesn’t have the roads on which to drive it to market. In the case of cocaine, on the other hand, traffickers come to him. They pay him cash on the spot and handle the transport details. They can afford helicopters. Cocaine doesn’t take up much space. A little is worth a lot in the U.S. market.
This is just one more proof, if we needed any, that prohibition of drugs maintains trafficking, it doesn’t curtail it. We do not have the means to stop it other than by using market forces to kill the drug trade. Until we develop a system tolerating adult drug use–drugs made by licensed pharma companies who certify purity and potency–illicit and often unsafe drugs will be supplied by unscrupulous traffickers.
© Rights reserved to Dave Finch 9/10/2017
For information on my proposed System visit Reform Drug Policy Project