28 thoughts on “Honors World Regional Geography Blog Assignment #6 – Cocaine

  1. Nations and regions build industries based on the resources they just happen to have, whether they be lumber, oil, diamonds, or anything else. In South America, one of the available resources happens to be the coca leaf. This plant flourishes in the tropical conditions there, especially on the slopes of the Andes Mountains. Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia have become the most important coca growers in South America, with Colombia being the largest. Civilizations such as the Inca have lived in these regions since at least the 13th century. For all of that time, coca leaves have been chewed on or brewed in teas. Just like qat in Somalia and Yemen, coca leaves were chewed on to mitigate hunger pains. Every society has a prominent drug, and it is very often the poor and starving who turn to them to escape. The coca leaf tea was brewed for medicinal purposes, and actually had an effect less stimulant than coffee.
    But, coca leaves today are not usually chewed on or made into tea; they are harvested and made into the white powder cocaine that we all know from gangster movies. The leaves are grown by the many, many peasant farmers of Latin America. Billionaire drug lords then oversee the production and trafficking of the “snow” (one of the many street names for cocaine). The nature of cocaine is that of a value-added product. Coca leaves themselves don’t do much good; they must be chemically processed and packaged for distribution. Cocaine is unique amongst third world exports in that it is grown, processed, and shipped from the same region. Because of the high costs of inputs and high demand, the cost of cocaine skyrockets once it is exported. A kilo of cocaine in Colombia currently costs $8,000; when it reaches the United States this price increases to $30,000. This is a shocking, saddening commentary on the importance of cocaine to the economies of producing countries and drug abuse in the US.
    The drug lord is really the most important player in the cocaine industry. Many have arisen throughout history. US drug lords are the ones receiving shipments from Latin America or other nations and distributing it. The drug lords of Latin America control not only the cocaine industry, but most aspects of life in the regions where they work. Using both threats and money, they often have the ability to place or remove politicians as they see fit. Quite frequently the drug lord has the loyalty of his surrounding community. This is shocking until one realizes that the criminal is often the one who has provided jobs and infrastructure that the government never did. Unsurprisingly, it is extremely hard to unseat them so as to disrupt their operation. But, when there are politicians, investigators, and policemen who are not in their pockets it can be done. Ironically, many notorious drug lords have been undone by tax evasion and sent to prison for it.

  2. Many regions have some resource that is the cause of strife. For example, many of the recent conflicts in the Middle East were caused at least in part by disagreements over oil and water. Some parts of Africa are famous for the blood diamonds that are sold to finance the violence of brutal warlords. In Latin America, it could be argued that the conflict resource is narcotics, particularly cocaine.
    Coca plants are native to South America and contain an alkaloid, cocaine, a stimulant that can be very powerful. Cocaine has been used by humans for hundreds of years, from being used by pre-Columbian societies to being an ingredient of one of the early forms of Coca-Cola. In modern times, cocaine has become a source of much violence and tension on a global scale. Around the turn of the twentieth century many governments began to pass laws to regulate and restrict the use of cocaine and other narcotics. While the most governments, especially in the developed world, see cocaine as a scourge on their nations’ society, and rightly so, in the rural and often impoverished area where cocaine is produced the drug serves as a source of much needed income.
    In most cases coca is by far the most valuable crop that can be produced. Legal cash crops like coffee and tea simply don’t sell for thousands of dollars per kilogram. Drug lords make millions of dollars and often have a sizable infrastructure to produce their cocaine. All of this money and the labor needed to produce the cocaine have provided economic stability and some measure of prosperity to many rural Latin Americans that simply has not been provide to them by their governments. Coupled with the fact that the local cartels are heavily armed and violent toward their enemies has led many of these rural farmers and villagers to support, or at least not challenge, the narcotics industry. This grassroots support has made the numerous drug cartels incredibly resilient in the face of government efforts to destroy them. Even in cities the drug industry can have significant support from the populace. In many favelas one of the easiest forms of employment is as a part of the narcotics industry.
    In response to the social damage caused by cocaine addiction and the violence associated with drug cartels, many governments have joined in on what has been termed the “War on Drugs.” Many Latin American government have taken a military approach to combating cocaine, from Colombia’s recently ended war with drug related groups like FARC to Brazil’s military crackdown on favelas. These military solutions involve both the operations to arrest or kill cartel member and the operations to disrupt cocaine production. The destruction of coca plants is the primary method of disrupting production. Coca plants can be destroyed manually by government personnel but in most cases is destroyed by herbicides dropped from aircraft. The violence of anti-cartel operations and the detrimental effect that herbicides have on human and environmental health in many cases push those who are impoverished further into the arms of the cartels.
    Ultimately, the cartels will continue to exist as long as they remain the only viable source of jobs and services to the large impoverished community of Latin America. Unless governments are able to develop economic opportunity, infrastructure, and services for the impoverished people, both rural and urban, cocaine production and cartel violence will continue. For these people the destruction of the narcotics industry means the end of their livelihood. The cartels are by no means benevolent protectors of the poor, but the opportunity they provide is far greater than that provided by the government. As long as the cartels continue to provide for the destitute in a more meaningful way than the government, cocaine will remain.

  3. Before I begin this story, I should mention that it did happen before I was born and was passed to me by my mother…it should make my standpoint clearer. For the sake of his immediate family, I shall leave his name out of this.
    My mother’s cousin was a pretty good kid. He had average grades, was good at sports, and liked to have fun on the weekends. He was a good kid until the monster known as drug addiction got the best of him. I am not saying that he then became a bad person, but he just got in with the wrong group of people. Most of his peers believe that his emotional problems caused by this switch in groups are what caused his criminal behavior (this highly fits into the General Strain Theory). His family decided that his best option would be to attend rehabilitation…but after dropping him off they later discovered that he had hitchhiked back to his home. Having lost 50 pounds after several more years of continued drug abuse, this young man was in very poor shape. Then one day, he did not come home from one of his late night “adventures.” Police discovered his body in a car at the stockyards in Springfield, MO. Apparently he was in some serious cocaine debt. Someone had been hiding in the back seat of his car and shot him in the back of the head, causing instant death. No one was ever convicted of his murder, but my family has been certain that I never forget his life.
    General Strain Theory is what was originally supported in the convictions of the cousin’s friends, family, and educators. They saw his law breaking as a way of coping with his emotional problems and therefore wanted him in a rehabilitation center rather than a prison cell. The young man became a Retreatist over time. He had no way of getting ahead in the world anymore. It really is a perfect real world example, though sad it may be.
    Now, had there been someone in his life that would have reported him to authorities, the story may have ended differently. One theory that would have supported incarceration would be the Genetics and Crime theory. This does not necessarily directly state that people that may have genes that lie on the side of criminal tendencies should all be incarcerated, but people cannot rip out their DNA, no matter how much they may want to. If criminal behaviors are genetic, it can be reasoned that rehabilitation is not as effective of an option as incarceration.
    The unfortunate thing about cocaine is how addictive it is and how there seems to have been little to no indication of it slowing down. A domestic case of death by drug abuse and debt is just one small piece in the grand chess game of the war on drugs. There is no simple solution to the problem, but unless something in done before too long, we will begin to see some of the harsh consequences multiplying exponentially.

  4. The cocaine trade in South America is one of the largest and most disputed sources of income, bringing in tens and hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue a year, and with only three countries – Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia – growing all of the world’s coca supply. The amount of labor required for producing cocaine from raw coca actually supplies lots of jobs, but it is a violent and absolutely criminal trade. Requiring approximately 500 kilograms of coca leaves to produce one kilo of cocaine paste (which converts to roughly a kilo of the drug cocaine -hydrochloride- ), it’s a large labor force required for the initial gathering. However, the inflation for the drug is remarkable, largely accounted for by the cost of smuggling it across borders. Starting from about $1.30 USD for a kilogram of coca leaves, to $7000 for a kilo of cocaine in the coca native countries, and up to $30,000 a kilogram in the United States or overseas, it’s no wonder so many are involved in the trade. However, violence is the main factor allowing the trade to continue. With a large portion of cocaine in the United States coming in from Mexican drug cartels smuggling across the border, the violence that accompanies the groups calls into further question whether or not the jobs for the impoverished down in South America are worth it. While those people definitely need jobs, the $1.30 a kilo simply cannot justify the thousands of killings a year in not only the South American nations producing the drug, but also largely Mexico where lots of the cartels are based, and then of course gang violence in the United States stemming from the selling of drugs on the streets. Cocaine is a vicious trade, and undoubtedly one of the most violence-oriented and corruption based of all the drug trades. This corruption especially is key to the cartels being able to move their drugs. Just this year, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency has reported that the former top leaders of Venezuela’s anti-narcotics agency have been indicted for trafficking drugs into the United States. This along with the well-known corruption in Mexico’s government and police force illustrates clearly the role corruption plays in the movement of cocaine along borders. Once in the borders of the U.S., cocaine has come to take a totally new form. While some of it is kept as normal cocaine hydrochloride, often it is now cooked into a cheaper and more intense crack cocaine, which is more addictive and results in thousands of deaths every year from gang activities and overdoses. With the selling of crack cocaine it is often accompanied by illegal prostitution, gangs, and other drugs, creating a larger, more violent, and more corrupt system of cartels and gangs every year. Despite efforts by governments across the world, the influx of cocaine is only increasing every year as cartels and other smugglers find new ways to bring the drug across borders. Cocaine is one of the most popular drugs in the world, and it brings with it violence, overdoses, and crime wherever it goes.

  5. The recreational use of drugs has become a large problem in the world today. These drugs are used to create pleasure for the user, but they are very harmful to the user. Thus, law enforcement is constantly battling drug dealers and buyers to get the illegal drugs off the street. One drug that has become a large problem especially in Latin America is cocaine. Cocaine is one of the most widely used narcotic drugs in the world. It is used in many different countries throughout the world, but the origins of its growing usually trace back to countries in South America. The plant coca from which cocaine is made, is typically grown in warm environments such as the ones presented in the tropical rainforest regions of South America. It is mainly grown in three countries of South America: Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. Its growth in South America has started to cause more problems than just law enforcement can fight. It is destroying the rainforests at a rapid rate because of the new coca plantations that are planted. On average, 300,000 hectares of rainforest are destroyed in Colombia every year to start coca plantations (Laville). Coca is a cash crop that is a large source of income for the people who grow it. However, with the constantly growing cocaine industry also comes the consequences of groups disagreeing. The violence levels in countries that have high drug growing and selling rates has risen considerably since the growth of drug usage. The levels of crime in countries has risen in many Central American countries that are the center of the transportation from South America to the United States. Guatemala handles a large percentage of the cocaine that ends up in the United States and they have even started to develop their own coca plantations. This is just one example of a country that has felt the impact of the cocaine industry both in negative and positive ways.
    Even though cocaine is primarily grown in South American countries, it is mostly consumed in wealthier nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom. To get the drugs to these countries, the drug cartels must transport them through one of a few different possible routes. Sometimes, they will transport them through the Caribbean while other times they will go through Central America in countries such as Honduras and Mexico. The shipments to Mexico have slowed down recently because of the new presence of law enforcement to stop drug cartels. The United States entered the War on Drugs in the 1970s to crack down on the use of drugs by citizens of the United States. Thus, this also made it harder for distributors from other countries to transport illegal drugs into the United States without being detected.
    In conclusion, cocaine has developed into a major problem among many different groups. Countries throughout both North and South America are fighting cartels to try to get as large a percentage of the drugs off the street as possible before they can be distributed. These drugs are potentially very harmful to humans when consumed, so law enforcement tries their best to get rid of them. Even though countries have started cracking down on producers and buyers of narcotic drugs such as cocaine, the problem they present continues to grow and likely will not slow down any time soon. 
    Works Cited
    Laville, Sandra. “Cocaine Users Are Destroying the Rainforest – at 4 Square Metres a Gram.”
    The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 18 Nov. 2008. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.

  6. Cocaine; the White Powder
    When we think of cocaine we almost immediately picture in our mind a white powder or a person sniffing a white powder. Yes, this is the most world known product of cocaine, the white powder product that is usually sniffed. In effect cocaine is a white crystalline powder mixed with baking soda, cornstarch and other chemical substances. This illegal drug can be snorted, ejected or smoked. It is powerfully additive and this is due to rapidly sensations of pleasure and euphoria that it creates in the consumers. The raw material of this drug is the leaves of the coca plant. This plant is originally from South America, where the highest production of cocaine can be found.

    Cocaine was not always the big enterprise that it is currently. The ancient Incas in the Andes chewed cocaine to increase their heart beat, so by doing this they could survive to live in the thin mountain air. Currently, Colombia is the major producer of Cocaine followed by Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. The policies of the Colombian government of paying subsidies to farmers who switch from production of coca plants to legal crops have actually boosted the productions of cocaine in this country. Some farmers have cheated and have sown more coca plants so that they can get more subsides from the government. The second problem is that to switch to legal crops means to earn less money than they are used to. They do not like this idea especially those farmers who have a large family to feed. The highest production of cocaine shown figure number three reflects the production vs the fumigation programs. The figure shows higher productions of cocaine in Colombia even though the government policies of active fumigation on illegal plantations. A reporter asked a clandestine chemist when he thinks this massive production of cocaine would end and he said “when there is any consumer.” The chemist believes that the production have increased because there is a bigger demand of the product. The question now is who is consuming this drug?

    Normally young people start consuming this drug due to peer pressure, the consumers normally tell their friends that if they consume this drug they can party all night and enjoy the party more. This statement can actually be true, but the consequences of this consumption are actually not good. The addiction to this drug leads people to get more and more of this stimulant. In the quest of satisfying this need people start losing their minds. They only concentrate on their consumption of the drug to feel normal, so they eventually start selling their belongings or stealing money to buy more drugs and in the worst case they end being homeless and with their life completely ruined.
    There many stories of people addicted to this powerful drug, but the really known ones are those famous people addicted to this drug because their stories are all on the media. One really famous story is the singe Amy Winehouse, who died after many drug interventions. She was photographed in public when she was completely drugged, and also there are some video of her consuming the drug on the stage while performing. She is an example that this drug can affect your life regardless your socioeconomic status. This drug can really destroy your life, so think twice before consuming it.


  7. Cocaine is a strong recreational drug typically snorted or inhaled to lose contact with reality and obtain a feeling of happiness. This illegal drug exponentially increases the risk of stroke, lung problems, and sudden cardiac death. Cocaine originates from the production of the coca leaf, a prominent revenue source for many South American nations. These nations like Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia heavily rely on poor farmers to grow the coca, allowing for mass production of cocaine distributed all around the world. The conversion process of coca to cocaine is particularly interesting in itself. Because the coca leaves are generally bulky in size, the first step is to let the leaves dry. Then, the leaves are covered in either petrol or kerosene to form a sloppy like mixture that is countered with lime and potassium permanganate. After the mixture is dried, the leaves are moved to another location to refine the paste substances into cocaine hydrochloride, the white powder cocaine is usually in the form of. As a result, an estimated 200 tons of cocaine is produced each year in South America, with about ten percent being confiscated by officials.
    The major issue in cocaine in South America is the amount of illegal drug trafficking of cocaine and how much power the substance has. In exchange for coca seeds, many traffickers provide guns, clothing, and machetes to Natives in South American nations. But these independent dealers generate small profits. The main concern originates from multi-complex operations hidden in the forests and jungles of the South America nations such as Colombia. With the access of an unlimited labor force, endless supply of chemicals, transportation in and out of the area, and a legitimate army/militia, these organizations control not just the cocaine market, but the general surrounding area as well. This allows for total power and control from many governmental accusations, similar to a safety net. Because of this, the economic aspect of the selling of the drug is phenomenal, with drug lords making millions of dollars annually. Although much of the revenue is used on accessories such as cars, luxurious houses and ranches, the profit also fuels construction industry, financial groups, and other businesses that are part of money laundering. More importantly, it grants access towards exponential economic power to obtain political influence, challenging many democratic systems of government. One reason is due to the amount of civilians bought into drug trafficking. In fear of their lives and their families lives, the follow the demands of the drug lords, creating a perfect system of fear and economic wealth. Government organizations have made efforts to contain this enormous system of drug trafficking, but with exportation out to the United States and Europe, it has become impossible to fully eliminate the whole operation. Especially now with cocaine being sold for strictly medical purposes, drug lords are practically in heaven knowing they basically can’t be touched or stopped. All that is left for nations to do is contain what they can and hope production of cocaine will gradually decrease. But in this growing illegal industry of cocaine, it is likely containment will never happen.

  8. The world’s only source of cocaine is produced in Latin and South America: Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. The coca plant, from which cocaine is cultivated, has a five thousand year history in which it has been used in rituals to ease hunger and to lessen the effects of living in high altitudinal regions, most especially the Andes and the Amazon. Unfortunately, the refinement and development of cocaine as a drug is rampant and is harmful not only to the users but to the countries. Although it has been made an illegal drug, the growing, refining, and selling of cocaine is widespread and its uses have not limited to recreational ones: it has created violence and corruption throughout Latin and South America.
    To produce cocaine, it takes six to eighteen months before the leaves can be harvested for the first time. The Tingo Maria area in the Peruvian Andes will produce three to four harvests on average, but can yield as many as six. With minimum care and estimates, one hectare produces 2000 pounds of coca leaves in a year. At 300 pounds of leaves to one pound of cocaine, almost seven pounds of cocaine is produced on two and a half acres every year. These plants will continue to create yields for up to thirty more years. With each recreational use of the drug taking miniscule amounts compared to these numbers, the vastness of the production and amount of income from the coca plants makes the reasons for such a prevalent drug trade seem clearer.
    The major drug trafficking organizations are the Mexican and Colombian cartels that control the drug trade. As such the areas where the cartels are producing and trafficking cocaine, violence, corruption, enforcing of the law, and violating human rights are much more present. Latin America has the world’s highest crime rates; murder was reaching 32.6 people per 100,000 in 2008. In order to fight crime and drug lords growing and selling illegal drugs, multiple governments have resorted to extreme eradication methods.
    Removal of the coca plants is one of the ways. While cocaine is hazardous to human health, fumigation is an even more serious concern. Aerial spraying, or fumigation by planes, is effective in reducing the growth of coca plants; however, releasing those chemicals could be fatal to civilians. A commonly used herbicide, glyphosate, has been determined to be most likely carcinogenic. Also, aerial fumigation is not efficient in terms of cost. The price of fuel, machines, pilots, and chemical products is not balanced with the amount of cultivation reduction.
    The other major attempt at eradication is through disrupting the drug trade. Effort go to seizing products, cocaine labs, chemical supplies, traffickers, and money launderers. Wars on drugs have human casualties as well, and not just those involved with the drug trade. In Mexico, when President Felipe Calderon started his war on drugs in 2006 more than sixty thousand people died in violence related to prohibition. If the war on drugs is to remain for the good of the people, more responsible methods must be used.

    P.S. I know this is late, but I just wanted to say that I was posting my blogs all at once yesterday, as I had almost forgotten I had to post them and found this one had not saved and lost everything but a few sentences and so had to rewrite it all. Have a Happy Thanksgiving! And a relaxing break!

  9. According to the Washington Post, In 2015 Colombia was the number one producer of cocaine, which was seen as a threat to the U.S because it could have been smuggled through a pipeline into the states. And Peru used to be the first largest producer, but was beat by Colombia, which made it the second largest producer. Researchers found that Colombia made 44 percent more of cocaine in 2014, and they the numbers of cocaine increased in 2015. The Washington Post said the Colombian government was extremely sensitive at this time because it was in its “final stages of peace negotiations with leftist FARC rebels, who have long profited from the illegal drug trade.”
    Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was known as a important ally to the United States. At the time He said his, “administration is ready to launch a massive crop substitution campaign if a deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is reached and areas under rebel control become safe enough for government workers.” The government and guerrillas agreed to work to together to help the rural areas of the country “with the FARC pledging to help persuade farmers to rip out their coca in favor of lawful crops.”
    According to researchers, armed groups and the FARC, who encouraged people to plant more coca plants to anticipate of the peace deal and new government aid, prevented the main reason for the “bummer crop”. President Santos had an interview with the Washington Post, and he told them that he was hoping to get together with some U.S. officials to come with a solution and a substitute for the plant. President Santos really believed they had a chance and opportunity to make a difference, but knew it would not succeed if they did not find another crop for the farmers to plant. This was extremely vital at the time.
    The FARC taxed and were in trafficking control of the coca farmers, which was very dangerous for the Colombian government. According to the Washington Post, “But Colombia’s other armed groups — including ELN guerrillas, paramilitary gangs and the rural bands known as “bacrim” — will be looking to muscle into the business in areas where the FARC pulls out.”
    In order to stop all this the U.S. decided to planes to spray at the coca fields to stop the plants from growing. The Washington Post said the sprayed about, “400,000 acres in 2000 to fewer than 120,000 acres.” This was very interesting to read. I never knew the U.S. was so involved with missions like these.
    Cocaine is still a huge deal today in Colombia. Some articles have some out saying that cocaine can be connect to peace and others have described the huge economic influence it has had on Latin American countries. This year the Colombian law implementation has stopped 104 cocaine laboratories, which was “capable of producing some 100 tones of the drug annually.” It was a five day operation in the country’s southeastern jungle area.



  10. Trafficking and the eradication of the production of cocaine has been a central issue in South America. The three countries that are the main producers in the continent are Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia. Although cocaine consumption has decreased in Europe and the United States, drug dealers have been looking into new, growing consumption markets particularly in Australia, Russia, and other South American countries. The price of cocaine in these regions have spiked with the increasing demands of cocaine. In Russia and former Soviet states, the prices range from $45,000 up to $50,000 while the U.S. has seen consumption of cocaine dropping with the stabilization of prices around $15,000. Columbia has attempted to end the trafficking of cocaine and to eliminate the production of the narcotic with aid from the United States. However, the country has undergone decades of internal armed conflict between leftist militants and right-wing paramilitaries. Drug trafficking has only helped with the continuation and the expansion of armed conflicts. The FARC, a left-wing militant movement involved in the Colombian armed conflict beginning in 1964, is in control of a large portion of the world’s cocaine production. With the growing demands of cocaine in Russia, there has been an increase in Russian involvement in organized crime activity primarily associated with cocaine trafficking within Latin America. With this situation, it is almost unavoidable for Russian drug traffickers to interact with the FARC. Colombia has attempted to limit the production of coca leaf with manual and aerial eradication, as well as interdiction supported by the United States. The effort, however, has caused the FARC, the ELN, and other organized criminal groups to move into new areas for coca production such as national parks and indigenous reserves, where the government is unable to conduct aerial spraying due to environmental concerns. Plan Columbia, which is an aggressive anti-narcotics policy that includes U.S. military and diplomatic aid, has seen little success as the hectares of coca cultivated has remained the same and production remains intact. Also, the use of fumigation has raised environmental and health concerns for those who are within areas where areal fumigation occurs. In 2015, top officials within the Colombian government called for the end of fumigation of illicit crops fields with glyphosate, which according to the World Health Organization has a dangerous amount of carcinogens, raising the risk of healthy people developing cancer. With the surge of coca cultivation, there is growing doubt on the effectiveness of glyphosate. Coca cultivation has jumped 39 percent in 2014 and average crop yields also jumped 32 percent. The United States has opposed any decision to halt fumigation and a large portion of fumigation is conducted by U.S. contractors such as DynCorp. Over 4 million acres of land in Columbia has been sprayed in the past two decades. Defying the United States, Columbia has suspended the use of areal fumigation. Columbia was the only coca-production country that used the practice as other major producers, such as Peru and Bolivia, disapprove spraying. The growing use of land for coca production and the best way to combat cocaine trafficking continues to be a controversial issue between Columbia and the United States.



  11. Crack, snow, candy, line, dust, coke… all nicknames for the highly addictive and dangerous drug Cocaine. Cocaine comes from Coca leaves and can be crystalized or in power form. It is most commonly snorted through the nose, but can be injected. Powdered cocaine is referred to as “coke” or “blow” while crystalized cocaine is called “crack” or “rock” and can be smoked.

    Cocaine first made headlines in the 1970’s during a large cocaine boom when prices plummeted. The boom may have been in part due to the fact it is “cheap, simple to produce [and] easy to use” (drugfreeworld.org). When first brought to the United States in the 1980’s it became so popular so fast that time period became known known as the “crack epidemic.” By the late 1980’s cocaine had hit almost every state and millions of people.

    The high of cocaine can be felt just moments after being inhaled. However, cocaine has horrible negative effects that happen after someone comes down from the high. Users feel a since of euphoria along with increased energy, no need for sleep, and “a feeling of supremacy.” However, the negative effects are endless. They include irritability, paranoia, restlessness, anxiety. The effects usually last around a few hours but the damages to the brain and heart and the body as a whole are lasting. Heart attacks, strokes, ulcers, high blood pressure, damage to the lungs, kidneys, and sexual drive are all very real negative effects cocaine can cause. Other physiological effects include depression, fatigue, inability to focus, tremors and much, much more. In conclusion, cocaine is risky and the negative effects seem like plenty to outweigh the high… but for 1.5 million users in the United States, that just is not the case. The addiction cocaine causes is too extreme for some.

    Cocaine is the 2nd most trafficked drug in the world. However, the drug use in the states has declined tremendously… and it may be due to the increase in the use of marijuana. 40% of adults in the US have tried cocaine in their lifetime. That number may seem high but many of those who experiment have not been going on to become avid cocaine users recently. There has been almost a 50% drop in the use of cocaine in the past ten years. The decrease of cocaine was not caused by one simple event, but rather a collection of things. The price of cocaine increased due to the drop in supply, other drugs became available, and the drug control at our borders has become stricter. The drug may be highly addictive but if users cannot get their hands on it, they cannot continue their drug problem. Thanks to the US – Columbian partnership and the Coast Guard and Defense Department the United States is on the track to being closer to a cocaine free country.





  12. While I have read many news articles from a variety of media outlets covering the high levels of cocaine use and its societal effects in the United States, I confess to knowing little about the sources of this drug or of its industry. A quick internet search revealed that this globally infamous stimulant is an alkaloid of the coca plant, which is native to the Andean region of South America. I was surprised to learn that this plant has been chewed and brewed as tea for centuries by the indigenous population of the Andean region for centuries, and is even regarded as a sacred plant with holy properties by some groups. The coca plant is a mild stimulant that suppresses hunger, thirst, pain and fatigue when chewed or drunk as a tea, no harmful effects and has not been found to be addictive in the medical sense. Nevertheless, the alkaloid cocaine is “readily extractable” and able to be synthesized into the highly addictive and toxic stimulant used as a drug all over the world. Because of this, the coca plant itself was placed on the list of Schedule I drugs, as well as cocaine, by the UN Convention of Narcotic Drugs in 1961, effectively banning the plant beyond the highly regulated scientific and medical research deemed allowable. If cultivated illegally, the coca plant is mandated to be destroyed. Peru and Bolivia have since sought to renegotiate the legal parameters of cultivation of the coca plant for traditional uses, but have been unsuccessful in their efforts to have the coca plant removed from the list of Schedule I drugs. The site that I found as a source of much of the information in this post was authored by the Transnational Institute, which advocates for the revocation of the prohibition of the coca plant by the UN in respect to the traditional uses of the plant. The TNI argues that the UN violates the rights of the indigenous Andean peoples by rendering illegal their cultural practices inclusive of the coca leaf, which is proven to be non-addictive and not causing of harm. The TNI believes that the UN should remove ‘coca leaf’ from the list of prohibited drugs, but maintain the ban on cocaine, coca-base, cocaine-alkaloid and other monikers for the toxic forms of the plant.

    The TNI further reports that aggressive means, instigated largely by the US, have been used to enforce the ban on coca plant production. These means include forced eradication, which has led to violent conflict between producers and the military in Andean countries, resulting in deaths and human rights violations. In some cases, the state has used aerial herbicides as a means of forced eradication, which the TNI points to as central reason for support of guerrilla opposition by the populations of these countries. While some countries have programs of providing alternate crops for the former coca producers as a viable means of livelihood, these programs are reported as being met with marginal success. The prohibition of these drugs by the UN was intended to eradicate, or at least significantly lower, their use, but evidence indicates that the existing legislation has proven ineffective: “A Report on Global Illicit Drugs Markets 1998-2007, commissioned by the European Commission, found no evidence that the global drug problem has been reduced. The global number of users of cocaine expanded over the period. Wholesale and retail prices show a downward trend while purity is rising, which means there is no shortage on the market” (Transnational Institute). Many Andean peoples who rely on small-scale and subsistence farming as a means of survival are motivated by necessity to continue to cultivate the illegal plant, whether it is ultimately used for traditional purposes, or to be developed into cocaine.

    Blickman, Tom. “Coca Leaf: Myths and Reality.” TNI. Transnational Institute, 04 Aug. 2016. Web. 25 Nov. 2016. .

  13. Cocaine, the drug pictured in the first photograph, is made from South American native coca plant leaves. Columbia is known as the world’s most prominent producer of the drug, yet Peru and Bolivia are also major contributors. These countries have climates that are suitable for growing the coca plant considering their proximity to tropical rainforests. The drug increases the brain’s natural levels of dopamine and therefore creates the effect of extreme happiness. However, the drug can also cause depression, fatigue, hallucinations, nausea, and malnourishment. Overdose and addiction are highly problematic in the United States, in 2014 more than 5,000 people died from overdose according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

    In reference to the second image, the retail price of the drug can be very expensive in some countries in North America and Europe. This can be problematic for addicts that will struggle to afford the drug and may end up in debt as a result and will often lead to criminal behavior. On the other hand, the low price of the drug in regions that produce cocaine such as South America makes it easily accessible and the likelihood of usage is increased.

    In effort to combat the production of cocaine, the Columbian government has made efforts to kill the plant by spraying powerful, Monsanto manufactured, weed killers on them. For the past 15 years, largely halted in 2015, American contracted crop dusting planes spray they chemical on vast amounts of coca fields. It has been found that the particular herbicide that is sprayed likely causes cancer to those exposed, including rural residents, as well as numerous environmental damages. However, the Columbian government will continue to struggle to decrease the cultivation of the drug without eradication tactics. Moreover, there is a large push from the United States for Columbia to continue its fight against the manufacture considering it is concerned about the entry of the drug into its borders.

    The War on Drugs in the United States, which began in the 1970s under the Nixon Administration has continued to this day (Nixon who famously claimed: “America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse”). Today, nearly half of all incarcerated individuals in the country are jailed for drug crimes. Moreover, this “war” has disproportionately affected and punished people of color, although many statistics find that whites are more likely to abuse the drugs. It is arguable that the incarceration of individuals for drug usage is counter-productive if the end goal is intended to reduce the substance abuse, considering many people spend a disproportionate amount of time in jail for non-violent drug offenses. Perhaps we should be asking different questions: why are people turning to drugs in the first place? Why are people of color disproportionately punished for drug use? Should we focus our financial resources on rehabilitation rather than incarceration? Instead of building walls, should we be more concerned with addressing the political, social, and economic factors that often contribute to a region’s willingness to produce drugs such as cocaine?

  14. When it comes to cocaine production and distribution, Columbia, Bolivia, and Peru really couldn’t look much more promising. The plant in which cocaine originates from, coca, just happens to grow exceptionally well on the eastern slopes of the Andes. Making these central American countries prime real estate for drug cartels and those connected to the sale and distribution of cocaine.
    In 1961, the coca leaf itself was deemed a schedule 1 drug by the United Nations. This put the coca leaf in the company of cocaine and heroin. This was done purposefully to prevent the manufacture of cocaine. With the coca plant deemed illegal, the governments in Columbia, Bolivia, and Peru could more effectively go after the coca plants required to produce the illegal drug cocaine. One way in which the government of Bolivia attempted to eradicate illegal coca was through fumigation. This is a process by which chemicals are sprayed from an airplane on the crops, killing them. Peru and Bolivia both sided with manual eradication, unfortunately this has resulted in the deaths of coca growers and the government officials caught in the middle of cartel violence.
    The issue with attempting to eradicate the coca plant is that it will never be completely eradicated. The Andes is a vast expanse of land that simply cannot be completely surveyed. The poor farmers living in these areas also pose a risk. Because they are so poor, they are willing to do almost anything to make money to provide for their family. This makes them easy targets for cartels to recruit into their operation. The money the cartel is offering is far more than they would make growing typical crops. In this way, as long as there is demand for cocaine, coca will be grown and cocaine produced.
    A large portion of the cocaine produced in Central America makes its way to the United States, and for good reason. The U.S is the worlds largest consumer of cocaine, and cocaine is second to only marijuana in terms of most popular illegal drug.
    According to WebMD, cocaine use leaves the user with an increased sense of energy and alertness, an extremely elevated mood, and a feeling of supremacy. While these effects may seem all well, the body does not feel the same. Cocaine use effects every part of the body. Cocaine causes blood vessels to constrict. This makes the user susceptible to heart attacks, and strokes. In addition to the physical effects, cocaine users run the risk of developing an addiction.
    Overall, the cocaine epidemic has far reaching implications, from cartel violence to bodily harm for the user. It is apparent that this is a drug that needs taken off of the street, but what is not so apparent is the best way in which to take it off the streets. For now it seems cocaine is here to stay.

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