2006-11-23

Cocaine

It is amazing how much crime and human destruction occurs owing to the illegality of certain substances. This article from the BBC shows that now poisoning, fraud, and abuse of animals can be added to the normal crimes of trafficking, possession, and sale of a controlled substance. Moreover, consumers of the recreational "champagne" drug, cocaine, are now ingesting carcinogenic additives. Traditionally, cocaine was cut with caffeine. Now it seems dealers whose objective is to maximise profits and whose product is unregulated and untestable because of illegality are moving on to more pernicious cutting agents, ie Phenacetin.

While I would be someday interested in trying traditional coca tea or chewing coca leaves especially in the mountains, ingesting processed cocaine whose dosage is about 1000 times higher is very unhealthy causing cardiovascular and brain damage. Processed cocaine is also extremely addictive. The hydrochloric acid in processed cocaine destroys nasal passageways, mucous membranes, and sinuses.

Despite such drawbacks, adults who are educated about the risks of cocaine should have the right to buy it from licenced distributors and consume it at their discretion. At the very least, laws worldwide should be made to reflect the policies of Bolivian president and former coca farmer Evo Morales: Yes to coca, no to cocaine. As with most illegal drugs, legalisation of cocaine would dramatically reduce crime by lowering the price, legitimising the producers and distributors, and lowering the associated health risks by ensuring a clean supply. Cheap processed cocaine would likely reduce the demand for cheaper more destructive forms of the the drug including crack and freebase.

The ongoing war by the US in Columbia against FARC which includes the use of chemical weapons against farmers and their crops is simply immoral.

In the wake of Milton Friedman's passing, let us remember that human freedom to control one's own life, beliefs, and economic behaviour also includes the freedom to alter ones own body chemistry or mental processes. With freedom comes responsibility. Irresponsible self-destructive personal behaviour affecting only the user and those emotionally affected by the user is no grounds for a general government interdiction on drugs.

4 comments:

Diana Chavlah said...

pace,
information is the power nr 1 that provides people with knowledge and the ability to decide to do whatever they want witht their own lives and their own bodies.
Media has a tendency to exaggerate the effect of drugs (and school as well). with legalisation of drugs, the crime rate might be lower. But the problem today is that society don't treat drug abuser efficent. Perscriptions from doctors is the best way to reduce the crime and accept the fact that some people has problem wiht drugs (and need help)

Pace said...

Yes, doctors prescriptions for things like heroin or cocaine would be ideal, because then at least someone would be overseeing a person's substance ingestion and properly inform them of the dangers and potential interactions with other drugs as only a doctor can. The problem is that under the current medical system, even if a doctor had the right to do so, a doctor would not prescribe party drugs to people because they are a luxury that will result in a lawsuit if anything goes wrong. There should be some middle ground where a doctor will prescribe whatever you want after you sign an airtight waver freeing the doctor from any liability.

Mark said...

I will say from personal observation that a hard drug like heroin (cocaine I know less about) is extremely harmful and prone to abuse. However, at the same time I have no compunction in mocking the "war on drugs" ... I think by now we should all realize that government-sponsored "wars" on abstract concepts lead us NOWHERE. We (as Americans, more broadly Westerners) are not any closer towards solving the public health dilemmas associated with drug abuse than we were when these ridiculous "wars" where undertaken some thirty years ago. Shame on politicians for pursuing easy "villains" rather than addressing the underlying reasons as to why there is such widespread drug use in Western society (if there is such a pressing need to end it). Colombia is a war-torn country precisely because it is easier for American politicians prefer to ban drugs in America and send weapons to Colombia rather than legalise and regulate a trade governed by the tastes of its own citizens. Likewise to Europe and its heroin suppliers in Central Asia.

Timothy said...

The US' efforts to eradicate the poppy crop in Afghanistan has failed. As thearticle notes, opium production has increased 26% overall in the past year.