Tell U.S. Drug Warriors To Go Home


That's what Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, is recommending that Latin American countries do in a remarkably sensible article in the current issue of Foreign Policy. He writes,

"Leaders in the region should call the war on drugs what it is?a failure and a farce?and politely tell Washington that Latin America will no longer contribute to a callous, misguided effort that undermines the region?s economic prospects and social cohesion."

Nadelmann also suggests that Latin American countries "[r]estore coca's good name." Coca was traded and used for centuries and Nadelmann is correct that there "would surely be substantial worldwide demand today for coca-based products such lozenges, gums, teas, and tonics were it not for the current restrictions, and lifting them would provide a much-needed boost to economic development in both Bolivia and Peru."

He's right, companies like Celestial Seasonings could make a mint selling things like coca tea. When I was in Bolovia in the mid-1990s for a free-market conference, pre-packaged coca tea with flow-through tea bags was sold in grocery stores. It tasted slightly sweet and had no more effect than caffeine as far as I could tell. I thought about bringing some back, but realized that coming through Miami customs after only 3 days in Bolivia would appear "suspicious." I was right–my luggage was thoroughly searched for the first and only time in my international travels.

Anyway, how does the U.S. get away with telling other countries that they can't grow and sell recreational drugs to develop their economies? After all, the U.S. was founded on the export of tobacco.