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Young Elephant
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

By Steven Taylor @ 2:27 pm

I mentioned the other day that the ability of terrorists to use drug profits to fund their activities may evenutally cause the US (and others) to rethink current prohibitionist policies. There is no doubt that drug profit fuel the conflict in Colombia, and are of use to the Taliban and terrorists in Kashmir.

For example:

  • The international illicit drug business generates as much as $400 billion in trade annually according to the United Nations International Drug Control Program. That amounts to 8% of all international trade and is comparable to the annual turnover in textiles, according to the study.

    Source: United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Economic and Social Consequences of Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (New York, NY: UNODCCP, 1998), p. 3.

  • According to the United Nations, profits in illegal drugs are so inflated, that three-quarters of all drug shipments would have to be intercepted to seriously reduce the profitability of the business. Current efforts only intercept 13% of heroin shipments and 28%-40%* of cocaine shipments. (*At most; the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention notes that estimates of production and total supply are probably understated by reporting governments.)

    Source: United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Global Illicit Drug Trends 1999 (New York, NY: UNODCCP, 1999), p. 51.

  • According to the United Nations, illegal drugs create enormous profits - a kilogram of heroin in Pakistan costs an average of $2,720, and sells for an average of $129,380 in the United States.

    Source: United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Global Illicit Drug Trends 2000 (New York, NY: UNDCP, 2000), p. 165.

    Source for the factoids (and there are far more): Drug War Facts.

    I am no fan of illicit drug use, and indeed wonder about the sanity of people who would willingly put these substances in their bodies. However, the obscene profits that can be made from these drugs means that stopping there distribution may well be impossible. From a cost-benefit perspective I have serious, serious doubts that prohibition (and the “Drug War” in general) is wise policy. Indeed, I am fairly certain that it isn’t.

  • Filed under: Global Politics

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    1 Comment»

    1. I agree that it can’t be stopped, but the drug war policy is probably the only policy we can afford (barely) in order to discourage illegal importation of controlled substances. The only way that the smuggling of narcotics into the u.s. could be reduced at a lesser cost than our current “Drug War” policies, would be to employ much more hard edged consequences for those who choose to destabilize our country via poisoning our youth, tax evasion, not to mention the total sum of how many people may have died as a result of the oppressions that most drug cartels impose.
      Importation of narcotics on a mass scale (Heroin and cocaine in particular)should punishable by death, for the simple fact that it is attempted mass murder (with the word “attempted” being in constant question). Hell, given our current position in the war on terror, these people should be treated as the terrorists they are. Oh, i’m getting away from myself. Yeah, our drug policies are less than effective, and far less than economical; but then again, aren’t most of our policies rooted in inefficiency?

      Comment by Dan — Sunday, May 16, 2004 @ 12:40 pm

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