The Coca and the Cocaine War Essay

This essay has a total of 830 words and 5 pages.

The Coca and the Cocaine War

10 February 2002
The current "War on Drugs" involves skirmishes in an arena with two fronts: The consumer
and the manufacturer. The successes and failures of the battle are not clearly identified
without first looking at how the battle can be ultimately won. When it comes to cocaine,
the problem of punishing the whole instead of the individual is hard to define. Many
countries use the raw ingredient, the coca plant, as part of a social and cultural
structure. The only way to win the "War on Drugs" is to focus war efforts on fighting the
manufacturer of the finished cocaine product.

The "War on Cocaine" has been trying to fight a battle on two fronts. The first objective
of the American government is to deter the consumer from using illegal products. The
genesis of punishment against users is sited in the 1914 Harrison Act, in which addicts
and others that possessed drugs were punished for buying or possessing cocaine or heroin
without a prescription (Bertram, 26). This act began a trend that still today allows law
enforcement to arrest the user along with the supplier. The supplier (drug trafficker) is
the key in this type of police action, because most of the time the user will be unaware
of the exact origin of the substance or have any knowledge as to where it was purchased or
manufactured. The main problem with this type of arrest is that 70 to 75 percent of the
narcotic arrests per year are for possession and only 25 to 30 percent are for actual drug
trafficking offenses. Although the user should not be overlooked, a greater emphasis ought
to be focused on the supplier in order to reach the actual manufacturer of the illegal

The other front of the battle of the "War on Drugs" comes from locating and shutting down
the manufacturers of cocaine. Cocaine is manufactured from the coca plant, the drug's main
ingredient. When the government imposes sanctions on different nations for growing the
coca plant, careful considerations must be made. Just like any other market, there may be
underlying circumstances for growing the plant that are perfectly innocent to the illegal
cocaine market.

The key influence of the coca market comes from the Andean countries of South America:
Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. These countries are responsible for almost exclusively
cultivating the coca plant, but Colombia is the main processing nation of the plant into
cocaine, at nearly 70 percent (Stares, 2). The problem with fighting the producers of the
coca plant is that not all of the operations are geared toward making the illegal
substance. In fact, many of the producers within this region use the plants as a crucial
element of social status and cultural values.

The main problem that the American law enforcement agencies have encountered from other
nations is the social barrier to outlawing these narcotics. The coca plant has a
significant social value in the Andean culture, just as the tea and coffee have a social
value in American cultures. The Andean people chew the coca leaves, and this is done as a
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