U.S.A. In Colombia: Can't Leaf Well Enough Alone

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Despite $4 billion spent since 2000 on eradicating coca production in Colombia, and despite earlier surveys of more limited cultivation areas that indicated the billions were accomplishing something, a new survey, reports the BBC, finds that U.S. spraying has apparently just spread the areas of coca cultivation wider, with 26 percent more Colombian land under cultivation for coca in 2005 than 2004. (This report has no numbers on how much coca is being produced on the land under cultivation.)

[Link thanks to The Agitator.]

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  1. The dipshits in the DEA could have the same effect they do now by simply waiting for the drugs to come ashore, and buying them up in mass quantities from the dealers.

    How much cocaine could $800 million a year buy? On second thought, can you imagine what people could have done with that money if it were put to productive use? Sickening.

  2. Obviously, $4 billion was not nearly enough.

  3. Yeah, but NOT spending that $4 billion would be sending a clear message to our kids that premarital sex is ok… oh wait, er.. or something like that.

  4. Buy the leaf direct from the growers. Same with the tar (if that’s what they call it) from the poppy growers.

    That would probably be significantly cheaper than what we currently do, and shortcut many of the other adverse effects of prohibition. But not so exciting.

  5. The government bought huge quantities of cocaine would do nothing to diminish the quantity of cocaine in use in the United States. There’s plenty of room for supply to expand in Colombia. If the government started buying cocaine, it would just create an incentive to grow more. Current anti-drug programs don’t stop drug production because demand is so high and inelastic, but even the harshest critics of the drug war can’t seriously deny that has at least some effect in reducing cocaine production. It’s a standard libertarian argument that if you tax something, you get less of it. If you threaten to incarcerate someone or use military force against a particular activity, you’re going to get less of that also.

    Domestic agricultural subsidies haven’t starved Americans. Cocaine subsidies won’t reduce cocaine consumption. I’m not saying the drug war is a good idea, but saying that we could reduce cocaine consumption by redirecting drug war spending to drug buying programs is silly and plainly wrong.

  6. Is the DEA spray overlapping into the fields that grow the rich, aromatic Colombian Coffee(TM)?

    Should the Juan/donkey mascots wear gas masks?

  7. “The dipshits in the DEA could have the same effect they do now by simply waiting for the drugs to come ashore, and buying them up in mass quantities from the dealers.”

    Run the numbers it is probably cheaper than the current War on Drugs.

    But hey at least they are “doing something” about the drug problem. Yeah, ugh right, ehm, something sorta like that.

  8. “…saying that we could reduce cocaine consumption by redirecting drug war spending to drug buying programs is silly and plainly wrong.”

    Silly, anyway; obviously, if we subsidize production, we will provide no disincentive to grow, and likely increase production. However, if we could get cash into the hands of the growers, and reduce their dependency on the criminal gangs, (and stop destroying their local agricultural markets with our subsidized exports), perhaps they might be able to switch production into other crops.

    We definitely need to be looking at alternatives to our present, idiotic (some might say counterproductive) policies.

    ps- eradication programs have litte to do with the demand side.

  9. even the harshest critics of the drug war can’t seriously deny that has at least some effect in reducing cocaine production…

    Not enought to matter. Those who want the drug can get it, albeit at a higher price than they would otherwise pay. That was the point of my post.

    if you tax something, you get less of it

    yet you noted elsewhere the demand curve for coke was inelastic.

    If you threaten to incarcerate someone or use military force against a particular activity, you’re going to get less of that also.

    You’re assuming rational, CBA-type decision making. Addicts do not fall into this category, nor do many recreational using non-addicts. Also, the actual risk of arrest is small for many, if not most users. Granted, the threat of incarceration definitely keeps away dilletantes and day-trippers (no pun intended) who would try it on a dare.

    saying that we could reduce cocaine consumption by redirecting drug war spending to drug buying programs is silly and plainly wrong.

    I think either one makes as much sense (zero) as the other. Only the externalities would differ.

  10. FXKLM – For what it’s worth, I wasn’t presenting the “buying program” as an actual alternative, merely trying to point out that they could acheive (approximately) the same results for much less time & money.

  11. The correct term is relatively innelastic. And no one said perfectly innelastic. At ther margins there is less consumption. Another standard libertarian argument is the drive up in demand due to how cool the forbidden fruit effect is. I don’t really buy that whole line. But the most important thing is that the logic of the drug war plainly is that the pain and suffering of people isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Surely enough pain and suffering will dissincentivize at least some drug use. At least just enough to justify funding a massive effort to employ douche bags to render said pain and suffering.

  12. even the harshest critics of the drug war can’t seriously deny that has at least some effect in reducing cocaine production…

    Apparently not. Land under cultivation has gone up, not down. Why wouldn’t productivity be, at a bare minimum, flat?

    I don’t really buy that whole line.

    There is complex set of counterintuitive results from the whole drug war.

    For example, it has tended to push hard drugs over soft, as dealers and buyers would rather get more bang for the risks they run.

  13. R C Dean: It’s not exactly a controlled experiment. The fact that drug cultivation hasn’t declined much, if at all, over a decades-long drug war doesn’t mean that the drug war has had no effect. We have no idea what have happened to production without it. I don’t doubt that the government vastly overstates the effect of the drug war, and I don’t disagree that it should be ended. But it’s simply not possible that severe penalties for cocaine production would have zero deterrent effect at the margin.

  14. I have heard that coca growers are also selectively breeding “Round – Up” resistant coca by saving plants that survive spraying. They are genetically engineering the coca plant by old fashioned observation and selection.

  15. I have heard that coca growers are also selectively breeding “Round – Up” resistant coca by saving plants that survive spraying. They are genetically engineering the coca plant by old fashioned observation and selection.

    cliff,

    Interesting article on wired.com
    Link: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.11/columbia.html

  16. Yeah, I think it’s interesting, too, that growers are selecting and breeding resistant plants. Makes sense.

    But.. even if the plants survive, the poisons are still on them, right?

    This reminds me of the rumors that our government sprays mj crops with the intention of poisoning the end-smoker. I don’t think that’s so far-fetched, considering the evil fucks that we’re dealing with here.

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