While searching for greater understanding about the business end of things I came across a 2009 report from the UN with some excellent information about how the cocaine industry works. (And wouldn't you know it, the farmers get stiffed in this business too!)
U.S. vice-president Joe Biden has been splashing around Honduras in the last few days, and the newspapers have been full of his comments urging Honduras not to listen to Guatemala's talk about decriminalizing illicit drugs like cocaine. Rather than have a real plan for easing the tremendous violence going on in the countries that supply the vast cocaine markets in the U.S. and Europe, Biden is promising to fix things by reducing reduce the demand for cocaine in the U.S.
Sure, Joe. Except that Western countries have been trying to do that for, oh, 30 years now, and it hasn't shown much promise as an intervention. Meanwhile, the cocaine industry in Honduras claims the life of an average 13 people a day, murdered in a business that is vicious, unregulated and beyond anyone's ability to control.
Too often, people think that if you support decriminalization, you must be in favour of illicit drug use. We've got to get past that. You can hate drug use yet still recognize the complete folly of trying to stop a massive industry just by lecturing our youngsters to just say no.
I think it's unethical for countries whose citizens are responsible for the demand to be leaving the countries that do the work to shoot it out in the streets for a bigger share of this lucrative industry. Illicit cocaine use can be lethal, but what's so evident when you spend time south of the border is that the work of producing and distributing the drug is the real killer.