The worldwide destructive power of prohibition

In the February 2009 issue of Playboy (not available online, sorry), I found an interest/depressing feature article: “The Drug Coast” by Christian Parenti. It’s about Guinea-Bissau, a country in Western Africa that I must admit I barely knew existed. It’s almost completely a failed state, with a corrupt government and military that is funded by the European Union to stop the drug trade and funded by the Drug Trade to facilitate the drug trade.
The entire reason for Guinea-Bissau’s status is that coca is grown in Latin America, that cocaine is consumed (in part) in Europe, that Guinea-Bissau is conveniently located between the two, and (most importantly) that cocaine is illegal.
Guinea-Bissau itself doesn’t even have much of a drug problem. It has a being-in-a-convenient-location-in-the-drug-war problem.
I read stories like this and I’m blown away by how massive is the damage caused by the drug war, in so many ways — from creating failed states in Africa, to encouraging a 16-year-old crack dealer in the UK, to demolishing houses in Canada, to destroying farmers’ livelihood in Afghanistan, to locking people up for life in Southeast Asia for possession, to people losing their heads in Mexico.
And that’s just this week’s news.
“bullet” UK: Crack Dealer Aged Just 16 Goes to Jail
“bullet” Ontario:
“Hamilton police will examine an initiative where it can demolish homes used for marijuana grow operations.”
“bullet” Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL) is pushing for aerial herbicide spraying in Afghanistan. He actually points to Colombia as a good example of the effectiveness of the program (somebody should tell him that total cocaine production in Colombia has increased).
“bullet” 3 heads found in ice box in northern Mexico
“bullet” Cambodia to work out new law to punish drug traffickers

Drug traffickers will receive harsh punishments for possessing small quantities of illegal substances if a new draft law to be worked out in March, national media reported on Wednesday. […]
The draft, written with the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as advisers…

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