It’s been more then twenty years since there was a serious conversation in this country regarding the legalization of drugs. Many think it is time to take another look at this possibility. More then 5000 people have been killed during 2008, in border town drug wars effecting the USA and . According to LA Times staff writer, , this is more then double the statistics for the previous year. Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora recognizes, that corruption at the top levels of government is the worst seen in a decade. To a large degree the competition to provide drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and amphetamines is due to the voracious appetite of the American consumer. These wars have taken on some of the most violent and inhuman tactics known on any battlefield. Kidnappings and mass killings are reaching record numbers. This is happening right at the US border. During the 1980s we watched as the US government along with a partnership from the Military, found some success at reducing the amount of cocaine reaching the ports of America. However, these successes were short lived as the cartels just became more innovative and substantially more brutal in their resolve. The largest client base for the cartels remain here in the USA. Wealth achieved only by Fortune 500 companies continues to be the prize, and when one cartel falls there are dozens of new ones waiting for the opportunity to harvest their spoils. Huge amounts of untaxed dollars are at stake, and nothing or anyone can do a thing to stop the action. As the global economic woes continue, alternate funding practices become seriously more attractive. Imagine removing an estimated 50-100 billion dollars a year from an already stifled economy. Why are we allowing thugs, gangs and virtually the most under-educated members of society worldwide, to manage this business?
Afganistan has produced more opium to date since the ousting of the Taliban, then ever before. According to some statistics they are producing 93% of the worlds supply of opium, the plant grown and used for the production of heroin. Although the Karzai administration says, it is committed to fighting the drug lords and reducing production, when huge fortunes are at stake, history will repeat itself. In most third world “producer countries”, these drug lords are not only criminals, they are also business men and women building schools, funding infrustructure for communities, and paying off high level government officials for protection. The revenue from the drug trade provides the “ways and the means”, to purchase weapons, manpower, and intelligence that helps fund the against “the west”.
In President Evo Morales was elected in 2006, he’s also a former coca farmer. The United States has spent over 90 million dollars to help fight cocaine production, but has seen little return on the bucks. The US program which hopes to convince the coca farmers to begin to grow other crops, instead of the coca plant used in processing cocaine, is a tough sell as you might imagine. Recently, in the southern jungle of Bolivia, police busted the largest drug lab ever found in this, the third largest cocaine producing country in the world. President Morales says he, “wants to change the way Washington tries to eradicate the crop”.
cocaine believed to be one of the most potent ever produced, saw a steep decline in production during the mid 1990s. The slow down which lasted about six years, is now a thing of the past. The DEA mirror agency in Peru, called Devida, reports huge growth in the production of the coca plant since 2003.
Despite the death penalty sentence applied in for nonviolent drug offenses, traffickers continue to move large amounts of illicit drugs there. As China “the closed society”, becomes more capitalistic in it’s approach to the world economy, they are rapidly becoming another huge consumer society. Drug lords with monies abound are funneling all types of designer drugs, along with the usual suspects, heroin, cocaine, and pills of all types into the “peoples republic”.
As we look at the countries of , we generally think of the starvation of the people, civil wars and tribal conflicts. On the other hand blood diamonds and its revenues fund militia groups, and other radical movements. West Africa has increasingly become the drop off point for drugs headed to Europe, before making their way into the western markets. In, the drug infested ghettos give rise to a generation of youth becoming drug addicted, often as young as 7-9 years old. Usually in the cases of these youth, as with many kids around the world, the initial attraction is to “fit in”, feel grownup, or to otherwise do what seems to be the status quo. Like in other third world countries, or even developed countries for that matter, officials have no idea how to combat this rising trend! As noted earlier in this article when large amounts of money is driving the momentum, sophisticated syndicates learn various ways to continue the trafficking in the face of serious law enforcement efforts. Still other African countries along the eastern coast and are experiencing a significant increase in local usage as well as trafficking.
which lies geographically outside the major shipping lanes, still sees a rise in the amount of illicit drugs coming into their country, primarily using “mules”. (persons ingesting drug filled balloons) Research shows that the country’s illicit drug problem is present, but certainly not to the degree of the western nations.
drug problem has been on the rise for years with no signs of slowing down. Like China they are quickly becoming rivals with the USA regarding consumption. The geographic location has traffickers coming into the country from every direction and bringing all types of drugs. The various crime syndicates have a strong hold on distribution, consumption and trafficking.
has a serious problem because of neighboring Afghanistan’s exportation of a powerful form of heroin. Remember we are discussing a country whose culture is rooted in the Muslim religion, and even alcohol is illegal. By all accounts this society is now dealing with the illicit drug scene on a very serious level.
I’d like to give some history about as many countries as possible but already the patterns of use and abuse, corruption, addiction and crime are apparent. Basically all of the fore mentioned nations are experiencing monumental consequences as a result of the pervasiveness of illicit drugs. The so called war on drugs has long since failed, and governments on a global scale continue to be non-responsive to their respective citizenry. We all have family members or close friends that deal with drug use or abuse to some degree or another. At the same time we would not call those close to us criminal, or social outcast. The fact is, that we as a global society must begin to address this unspeakable issue in real terms. Sure we should be tentative and careful. But history has shown us that the problem cannot be eradicated merely by “just saying no”. Nor will it subside by putting users and addicts in prisons and jails. Illicit drugs by definition are a “brand”. They will be marketed, advertised, bought and sold. Farmers in the third world will continue to grow crops to feed their families. Billions of untaxed dollars will be generated by syndicates and other organized crime groups. They will wage wars against government entities that wish to put an end to their organizations. How long shall we “chase our tails”? Once, while living in Washington DC nearly twenty years ago, I was having this conversation with a federal prosecutor, he looked at me as though I was insane and said; “you can’t really be this irresponsible”. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that we are all being irresponsible about this issue.
During the weeks and months ahead, I’ll be looking at more countries and showing just how widespread this problem truly extends. I’m addressing a human problem effecting all of us collectively. The solution, should one exist, will be defined by a majority. I am proposing either legalization or at the very least decriminalization. I believe even a government not functioning well could manage this business better then its being done. We must stop the sale of these drugs to the youth whose bodies are still unable to metabolize these chemicals, without doing irreversible damage. They don’t even have a chance in life. We must be able to evaluate the other substances that are used to process the drugs. Presently the labs being used in the Amazon and in similar locations are not subject to any type of quality control. Moreover, anything can and will be used to provide additives necessary to complete the process. Often pulverized animal bones or something similar may be added. We live in a free society in the USA. Most countries make allowances for cigarette smokers, alcohol abusers, and other types of high-risk behaviors. If we are truly a free people, then the government should not legislate one form of poison over the next. I’m sure the tobacco and alcohol lobbyist are well heeled on capitol hill. It would also stand to reason that the powerful pharmaceutical lobby would spend millions to keep illicit drugs from becoming legal. Imagine how that could profoundly impact their business.
Let’s take control of this industry!! We can use its’ huge profits to educate youth on the dangers of abuse. We can monitor the processing and add quality control measures. We will take the power away from the entire illegal apparatus. Syndicates, cartels, para-militaries, extremist, and all those using the profits of the illegal trade will begin to fade. Street crime will subside in cities around the world. In major cities across America, teenage dealers are making one-thousand dollars a day at the low end. Little wonder why the territorial shootings and gang wars exist, and are never ending. Let’s send them to school rather then to prison or their grave. Without the “ways and the means”, these kids could not afford the bullets for their guns.
Let’s debate the pros and cons, for a new approach to this all inclusive dilemma. Finally, I’d like to say that I’m not advocating the use of illicit drugs, because I want people just getting high. Clearly, that decision is being made whether or not folks have legal permission or not. I’m merely arriving at a conclusion after decades of failed policies and false hopes. Perhaps we as Americans can take the lead on this, and open a serious dialog that won’t end until we have a solution. During these very painful economic times, perhaps the new source of revenue is an illicit commodity right under our nose!! This is a debate, all comments are encouraged and welcome!!!