We didn’t need any more data to definitively expose the many shortcomings of the US-led global prohibition on narcotics – but we got one today, courtesy of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
New figures show that cocaine production in Colombia reached an all-time high for the second straight year in 2016, as coca cultivation in the South American country surged 52 percent, spanning 146,000 hectares, compared with 96,000 in 2015. The 2016 crops produced an estimated 866 metric tons of cocaine, an increase of 35 percent compared to 2015. Meanwhile, cocaine use appears to be increasing in the two largest markets, North America and Europe.
While the UNODC said the survey results were “disappointing,” it noted that there were “some positives” in the report, including an increase of 49 per cent in seizures of cocaine - from 253 tons confiscated in 2015 to 378 tons in 2016. Of course, each seizure inevitably means some low-level trafficker – possibly working under the threat of violence – is being jailed, at an enormous cost to the public, while the seizure has little impact on the larger organization.