Drug crops are produced legally for scientific and medical purposes by countries such as India, Peru and Bolivia. The estimation of this production is accurate but there are countries like Afghanistan, Bolivia, Colombia, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Peru and Thailand which are involved in producing drugs illegally and the amount of illegal narcotic drugs produced is unknown. These developing countries are involved in illicit drug production because of the associated economic incentives. Lower class people from the less developed countries are earning more money from the illicit drug crop production when compared to the money they make from growing any other food or cash crop. There are also helpless situations where the peasants grow drug crops with low returns in the fear of drug traffickers assaulting them.
Drug Eradication programmes are carried out to control the production of drug crops at a place, but the drug traffickers manage to compensate the loss incurred in drug trade by enhancing the drug crop production elsewhere. For instance, in Bolivia, through the drug control programme, efforts had been made to individually compensate the farmers who eradicate coca crops. During the period 1986 - 1987, farmers were paid $350 per hectare as compensation; the amount was raised to $2,000 per hectare during the years 1988 - 1993, and subsequently, the payment actually reached a high of $2,900 per hectare during early 1998. It is ironic & unfortunate that several farmers simply took the money, moved on to a new location and started planting coca again.
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Previously, drug users purchased the small quantities of heroin, cocaine or opium from the main drug trafficker and supplied it to their close contacts and friends for free or in return for money. But now the illicit drug trade has become a large global network which uses the current technology and various distribution channels for trading the drugs to the primary consuming countries. Thus, drug trafficking is becoming a tightened, powerful and successful network because the traffickers have easy access to the drug crops and other chemicals needed for processing. The drug traffickers move their laboratories and trade to regions where the government has a weak control over the place. They also exploit their power to corrupt the law enforcement officials so as to make their path free of any obstruction and intimidate the public through criminal behaviour.
Heroin from the golden triangle is brought into the United States of America via California and Hawaii. These heroin packages are brought into the United States of America by the American and Thai nationals travelling on commercial airlines. This is an indication of the drug traffickers' power, influence and the presence of a strong global network which is helping them to sustain their illegal trade.
Consumption of Narcotic drugs is rapidly increasing around the world. Apart from harming oneself at the individual level through addiction, there is a great harm from such addicted individuals to the society around in terms of health, family and social relations, monetary status, and overall productivity of an individual. Drug use has led to many unsavoury incidents where the user commits theft, violent crimes ranging from physical abuse to murder under the adverse influence of the drug. The intake of drugs is on the rise in many regions due to the availability of the drugs at cheap prices.
The international and state drug policies are mainly focused on suppressing the drug crop production but the efforts made by the crop eradication and drug control programmes are not successful because the traffickers are compensating for loss of drug crop production at one region with profits from increased drug production elsewhere. The economic incentives provided to the farmers to get rid of the illicit drug crop production did not help in eradicating the illicit drug crops as the farmers got more attracted to the high profits they could make from growing the illegal crops in spite of the high risks associated with it. Lack of funds for drug control programme in the less developed countries was another reason for drug control policies to be ineffective.
As mentioned before, farmers from poor backgrounds and less developed countries did not give up illegal production of drug crops notwithstanding the economic incentives provided by the drug control board. Therefore, alternative development is being used as a tool to help the farmers decrease their dependence on the money generated from production of poppy and coca crops. These alternative development initiatives concentrate on providing equal benefits to men and women. They aim at developing community, basic infrastructure, health and education sectors. In Colombia, the alternative development project is taken forward with the help of the local government. This project focuses on helping the farmers to improve their production and quality of cash crops like coffee, cocoa and rubber so that they can be of use in the commercial markets. The project has strong connections with private sector and national federations which help the farmers with product commercialization. In addition to this, the project provides the people with legal support to obtain their land titles and prevent migration.
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The other strategies implemented to decrease the demand for illicit narcotic drugs in the prime consuming countries are educating every individual about the harmful effects these drugs can have on their life and surroundings. This kind of drug educational activities can be carried out in all types of background settings such as a company, a school & so on so that it discourages any student or an employee from using illegal drugs. The application of state and international prohibitions and bans on illicit drug use are also initiatives to prevent consumers from using the same. To an extent, these kinds of activities do not make much of a difference in the lower classes of the society because they do not have anything precious to lose.
Other strategies like legalisation and decriminalisation were seen as a way to reduce the harm that illicit drugs cause to society. These concepts were endorsed by the national commission and the president of United States. The policy of legalization of drugs seemed as a solution to reduce the crime prevailing in the society and drug use decriminalization policies were used to get rid of crime tax which was profit for the people involved in illicit drug trade. However, the drug use decriminalization policy received resistance from the public as in their view, it was not moralistic and ethical.
Invention and discoveries of narcotics like morphine, hypodermic syringe, cocaine and heroin were like a boon to the pharmaceutical industry and medical practitioners. The use of these narcotics enhanced the ability of the doctors to cure diseases and alleviate pain. These were also used as anaesthetics. The convention on narcotic drugs aimed at restricting the use of the narcotics to medical and research purposes as this is too valuable for medical practice. The national laws and state laws are focused at minimizing the production of the drugs to the amount required for the medical and scientific usage. Even in medical usage, these narcotic drug therapies are confined to use in specific clinical settings. The narcotics could only be administered in cases where the patient is undergoing acute pain and chronic cancer pain. It is observed on occasions that even in these settings, there are situations where the dosage of the drug used with regard to the drug policies is insufficient to alleviate the pain. In such instances, there will be a need to administer the drug above the normal implemented limit to the patient. Therefore, it is very necessary that the officials making the regulatory policies and law enforcement officials are aware of the present medical narcotic therapy practices. This will help the officials recognize and identify critical situations and this knowledge gained will help in obviating investigations into matters which are to be treated as exceptions.
Sum up: a) An integrated approach through setting up of a world class institution exclusively for combating the illegal drug manufacture, spread & usage (such as WHO) for updating & exchanging knowledge particularly of enforcement agencies across the world on the drug usage patterns, education of masses & communities through NGOs on the ill effects of consuming drugs unless it is on pure medical grounds. b) Govt intervention for suggesting alternate land use for remunerative crop plantations with initial govt funding which could instil confidence among the lower income farmers of long term secure future with good economic returns c) Strict, vigilant, dedicated specially trained law enforcement agencies on drug related issues who shall network with similar agencies all over the world.
The illegal use of drugs: A relook at the methodology for better control & mitigation of the drug menace.