The UNODC (UN Office on Drugs and Crime) recently came out with a lengthy description of the narco-economy, which can be accessed here.

Plenty of Canadians were surprised to read that Canada ranked fifth globally in marijuana use, first among the indistrialized countries. Newspapers were quick to point fingers at Québec, which tokes far more than the rest of Canada. Columnists also were quick to point out that the survery relied on self-reporting of illicit drug use, and that since Canadians faced penalties far less harsh than some countries, they were more likely to be honest in terms of admitting drug use.

Still, if 17% of Canadians used some form of pot last year, this would still put them at four times the global average.

Cocaine use and production also plays a prominent role in the UNODC discussion. Colombia is claimed to produce 62% of the world's cocaine. Eradication is praised, but even this report admits reducing acreage has been largely offset by increased efficiency and that decreases in Colombia have been offset by increases in Peru and Bolivia. Colombia leads the world in cocaine seizures. The biggest users of cocaine (as a percent of population age 16-64) are alleged to be: Spain (3), U.S. (2.8) England (2.4), Canada (2.3), Italy (2.1), Bolivia (1.9). There are an estimated 6.4 million cocaine users in North America compared to four million in Europe. Cocaine lifetime prevalence in Colombia is reckoned to be about half of the level in the US.

A short (Canadian biased) summary can be found here.

I hope it is clear from my previous posts that Colombia is about far more than cocaine. But reports like this involve both global perception of Colombia and certain unpleasant realities there. People who choose to use cocaine are not blameless and countries that persecute Colombia without dealing with their own cocaine problems are, in my view, hypocrites. I personally do not condone use of any illicit drugs, though some are worse than others.

Posted on August 1, 2007

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Funny Boliva...They chew the leaves I hope they don't count that as cocaine usage..much different...Yes I don't condone drug usage either thats bad but I really think its a person's decision and if they cannot handle it then up to them to stop.. long as there is demand cocaine production will not stop or level down..

Posted on August 1, 2007

Legalize it all, take away the narcos source of revenue.

People who want to do drugs will find a way, always.

Someone here (Rubito?) posted once that the rise of ' home made' chemical drugs will at some point eliminate the need to transport drugs across borders, removing a lot of the risk.

So even if gov'ts never legalize drugs, it might be a moot point in 10 years.

Sure reminds me of prohibition...didn't we learn anything from that?

(Personally, I don't even smoke cigarettes)

Posted on August 1, 2007

Canada no longer considers possetion of small amounts of grass a criminal get a fine,but no criminal record. The fact is that we export tons of high grade marijuana to the U.S.It is by fact the province of british columbia,s biggest exsport With an estimated 7 to 10 billion in BC bud crossing the the U.S border.The province of british colombia is polluted with grow opps, and the huge profits to be made combined with minor penaltys if you are caught growing has the industry booming.The marijuana is cloned and cloned again and again seeking higher thc values.It is potent compared to what was available 15 or 20 years ago.There have been people caught with grow opps that never did jail time...often only if they are caught a few times then they might do 6 months to two years.Marijuana is also available now through the goverment but must be prescibed for medicinal use by a doctor.It does have benifits in helping people who have had cancer treatments in helping appetite and is also good for glucoma patients as well as bieng prescibed for bad nerves etc..The tough part is finding doctors who are willing to prescibe it.Vancouver has a store that has been operating for about 5 or 6 years im guessing that sells marijuana out of it.The owner has been raided and hauled off to jail but for no more than a few days and he was out again and back in business.His sales were estimated to be about 60 to 100 thousand a day.I believe he is still im in the wrong line of work.

Posted on August 1, 2007

Pod, I respectfully disagree. Legalizing drugs will not eliminate the black market and consequently will not eliminate crime. The drugs would have to be given away for free and without any sort of hassle in obtaining them. Do you know a government on Earth that would not get "their cut" or would be able to administer any sort of program without red tape?

Thus the governments create their programs and set their prices and the narcos undercut them. It is already happening in Europe. Thus, the black market is still strong (much like trash collection and the mafia in New Jersey). The government cannot control it.

As far as homemade drugs supplanting cocaine and heroin, in my opinion it is not going to happen. Cocaine and heroin are too unique in effect, price, and demand for any type of known homemade drug to supplant them.

Drug users are generally not the focus of law enforcement efforts against drugs. When users get arrested it is because they did something stupid or are caught up in a larger investigation. I look forward to all repudiations of the above.

Posted on August 1, 2007

Tobacco and alcohol are much easier to control (control in the sense of government approved entities producing superior products) and consequently taxed. A government, for example in the US, could not easily control and tax a producer of cocaine and heroin. Moreover, black markets and the resulting crime still exist still exist in the tobacco and alcohol arena. Next.

Posted on August 1, 2007

no time to reply 'til later aaron, but i agree with some of your points, I just don't believe gov't intervention helps at all...but later!

Posted on August 1, 2007

Who is using all that Colombian cocain in the US these days? I just talked to a bail bondsman (socially mind you) who said all his drug cases are for meth.

Posted on August 1, 2007

Where there is money there is crack makes its way to canada.If you were to visit Fort mcmurray alberta,home of the huge oill sands projects you will find loads of crack heads.There is loads of work and good money to be made and lots of people who got into crack but never got out.They are easy to spot wondering the streets or sleeping in cardboard boxes and shantys by the river bank.The fact is(not for this cat)that if you wanted to get laid you only have to make a stop at 7-11 and you can get yourself a 7-11 special for a half a pack of smokes.It seems to make people do stupid things...i talked to a cop there that said when they wish to bust some crack heads they just walk through the city in plain clothes and the crack heads will come right to them and ask if they are looking...its true as ive been asked as well lots of times.Its all over though...not just there but other places as well...meth is also all over and im thinking even worse than crack as far as bieng a bad drug goes.

Posted on August 1, 2007

Atrevido what State is this bondsman????? Cocaine usage in S. Florida is still high. I see more Cocaine than Meth but do see a rise in Herion in S.Florida..

Posted on August 1, 2007

Re marijuana, if this study holds up, frequent smokers might no longer be able to say "I'm doing no long term damage to my body."

Posted on August 1, 2007

Bigfoot, you stated:

"There is no reason that government approved entities could not produce marijuana or other drugs. Your claim that they are easier to control is based on the fact that they are already legal. For a while we tried your solution on alcohol and it was NOT so easy to control at all. In fact it led to the exact same problems that prohibition does now. Didn't work then. Doesn't work now."

The US Government produces high quality marijuana now for experimentation and prescription in limited quantities. Thus, my position is not that the government cannot do it - it is that narcos would undercut any government program. Many suppliers produce equal if not superior products than the Government and can distribute them more efficiently and always at less cost. The Government would not be able to compete against the narcos. Prohibition was a completely different plan which the black market suppliers destroyed. They would destroy Government control of the current illegal drugs in much the same way.

"Why not? A lot of alcohol like tequila or vodka or whiskey is produced outside the US and it is controlled. I don't see why the same would not be true for these other products. You simply say it and then expect us to believe you."

I actually do not expect most to believe me, but the US Government could never control the cocaine and heroin market. The cost would most likely surpass the profit. I guess, in an ideal world for a drug user, the Government could allow private companies (like you suggested with the foreign alcohol producers) in other countries like Colombia, Mexico, Afghanistan, etc. to produce cocaine and heroin products and then tax the importation and sales in the US. Again, however, other narcos would easily undercut this. The black market and resulting crime would also.

The only reason the black market in alcohol and tobacco is so small is because companies produce superior products compared to the black market producers. Cocaine and heroin are either high purity or not - you cannot really improve them.

As far as cocaine usage, come to Wall Street or any bar in New York. It will not take long for you to realize how many people use cocaine.

Posted on August 1, 2007

I live in a resort area on the Gulf. Many of the locals are into cocaine. They are typically the wealthier types, and service industry workers (bartenders, waiters, etc) If one goes 20 miles north into the county, it is Meth that is popular. That meth is scary stuff.

Posted on August 1, 2007

If someone eats chocolate cake all day (or McDonald's fries) and gets fat and ill, some people blame the food, and those who sell it.

Me, I blame the person consuming it, because I think people are intelligent enough to make their own decisions.

Posted on August 1, 2007

it's true, legalize drugs and tax the shit out of them, people, if they want to do them, will find one way or another.

Posted on August 1, 2007

I'm going to be controversial here, but I was recently in Malaysia and saw that they sentenced a drug trafficker to death, which is the mandatory penalty if convicted of this crime. In addition, the penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are also severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Individuals arrested in possession of 15 grams (1/2 ounce) of heroin or 200 grams (seven ounces) of marijuana are presumed by law to be trafficking in drugs.

I know this is pretty harsh and there aren't enough jails to be able to house all the offenders in most countries. But I do wonder if such severe penalties could change behavior.

Posted on August 1, 2007

true, but legalize it, that woudl eliminate the need for such behaviour!

Posted on August 1, 2007

interesting results. I am sure that many people would believe the US would be the number one user for every category. The Philippines being number 1 for amphetamine is for sure true. When I lived there more than 15 years ago meth hit fact I think it may have started there as far as can tell they call it shaboo. It is a huge problem there just like it is growing here.

Posted on August 1, 2007

Wallace, either I did not clearly state my argument or you misunderstood. The narcos will exist because no government in the world can produce marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or any other Schedule I drug as efficiently as the "entrepeneurs". The government may approve some of these entrepeneurs to make said drugs, but they will always be undercut by the "narcos". Alcohol is completely different than cocaine, heroin, marijuana, etc. in that large, organized government approved companies produce superior products. This, in my opinion, cannot be done with c, h, m, etc. - as I stated, purity is all that matters with these drugs.

This argument is a simple governmental economic argument that does not touch the social issues involved with legalizing drugs. Let's start with these questions:

Do you believe that addiction to cocaine and heroin can be controlled in the liberal drug distribution system that you suggest?

Do you believe that society and government should have no interest in the crime that drug use and drug sales/profit create?

You further stated:

"One more argument in favor of legalization - everybody does it! Respect for the law is lessened when a law is widely disregarded. Such is the case with the drug laws."

You must be joking.

Posted on August 1, 2007

Aaron21. You raise good points and have a good argument. BUT, I disagree that the government and / or government approved companies and suppliers couldn't provide a purer, stronger marijuana, cocaine, etc. Let a government approved company with true scientists and horticulture types try and produce superior marijuana, with a legitimate profit motive ... I am pretty confident that the job will get done.

Posted on August 1, 2007