Drug Policy

How's Your Plan Colombia Now?


John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, loves to talk about how much more potent marijuana is than it used to be, even (maybe especially) when his numbers are off by a factor of 14. But he is less keen to talk about the rising potency of cocaine, which, along with its falling price, suggests how ineffective U.S. interdiction and eradication efforts have been. A couple of years ago, Walters bragged that an uptick in cocaine prices showed that Plan Colombia, the multibillion-dollar program aimed at cutting cocaine off at its source, was finally working. Last week he conceded things had not worked out the way he had hoped:

The drug czar, John Walters, wrote Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that retail cocaine prices fell by 11 percent from February 2005 to October 2006, to about $135 per gram of pure cocaine—hovering near the same levels since the early 1990s. In 1981, when the U.S. government began collecting data, a gram of pure cocaine fetched $600.

The purity of this cocaine, meanwhile, has "trended somewhat toward former levels," as well, Walters said in the letter, citing data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

A new report from the Washington Office on Latin America elaborates on the familiar failure of source control.

[via The Drug War Chronicle]

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  1. And yet the WOsD continues apace.

  2. So, what is $600 in modern dollars, or $135 in 1981 dollars?

  3. Sure, but what does this mean to the purity and cost of strawberry cocaine?


  4. Unfortunatley, the proposed remedy will be increased funding fo the DEA. Only with a better funded DEA will we be able to finally win this war on drugs.

    On another note, while watching the coverage of the Iraq war “emergency” funding bill veto I have been surprised how often the massive pork spending attached to it has been attacked. I would rather hear the pundits ask why we are passing “emergency” funding bills for a war that is over 4 years old and should be part of the normal budgeting process.

  5. $600 in 1981 is equal to about $1350 today.

    $135 today is worth about $60 in 1981

  6. If you want to compare dollar values of today and yesteryear, go to:


    (Pinette’s numbers seem right, according to the site.)

  7. Our leadership is so out of touch with reality, I wouldn’t be surprised if the 5 billion we’ve spent trying to stem the flow of imported cocaine didn’t actually play out as a subsidy, making money available to the “wrong people” to make it easier (bribes, enforcement intel) to more efficiently get the drugs to the USA

  8. But it’s medicinal cocaine!

  9. I didn’t know that coke was that cheap. I’d better go pick some up. Thanks, Uncle Sam, for being as completely ineffectual as we all expect you to be!

  10. Ha ha

  11. Lets see, crystal meth is a speed like coke, it costs relatively the same but it lasts for days instead of hours.
    I wonder if that could be a factor, called “competition” by economists, in the price of coke?
    Naa. If it is the Federal government would know that and tell us.

  12. Shit, I can get you and 8ball (off the brick) for $135, maybe less.

  13. The failure of the War on Drugs has been blatantly obvious to libertarians for oh, about 15 years now. In that time, has there been any change whatsoever in public opinion? Is this a meme that will eventually, someday, go somewhere?

  14. $600? Feh. My cousin Sol can get that for you at half price.

    BTW, how exactly do they determine ‘retail price’ of an illegal substance?

  15. BTW, how exactly do they determine ‘retail price’ of an illegal substance?

    It’s how much the cops can sell it for when they entrap someone.

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