Cocaine and the cost to me

There is a tendency when we debate the issue of the supply of drugs in society to focus on their effects at an individual or micro-level. We often focus on the financial and physical effect that drugs, such as cocaine, have on individual end-users and their families in our community. This often then becomes the basis for criminalisation.

The reasons for this approach are easy to understand. Users are a primary source of information and they, more than anyone else, are best placed to give evidence on the physical and financial effects of drug use (are you a user? give us your opinion). Secondly, family and friends of drug users arguably have a deeper (but not necessarily greater) interest because of their unique position as both members of the community and members of the user’s circle of influence (are you the family or friend of someone affected by drug use?). Finally, we still live in a largely insular society where we try to make decisions based on what’s right for “us”.

The weakness in this approach is that it fails to take into account the indirect effect that the supply of drugs have on the lives of millions of people worldwide and far-removed from our communities, who have no direct personal connection with their use (is this you? give us your view). Everyone is by now well aware of the concept of “blood diamonds” and their human cost. Why is there not a similar debate concerning the supply of drugs? Would approaching the issue of drugs and their effects at a macro level convince you to adopt a change of position? For example, if you feel that cocaine shouldn’t be criminalised/classified as a Class A drug because its effects aren’t as harmful as the experts suggest, would you nevertheless be convinced to support a tough stance on drugs/criminalisation based on its effect on people trapped in drug producing countries or those that serve as drug routes? (do you live in a drug route nation? Tell us your view).

For a few individuals, the supply of cocaine is a billionaire dollar industry. However, for millions of people living in nations such as Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Guinea-Bissau and Mexico etc., drugs have crippled and/or distorted their economies, reduced the ability of the State to police and hindered the democratic process.

Do you live in a cocaine producing or trafficking nation? If so, what has been the effect of drugs supply to you? If you are a cocaine user, how clued up are you on the “cost” of cocaine to the global society and how would greater awareness of these issues affect your use of it? (join the debate).