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.