- A practical guide on how to regulate cocaine – by Steve Rolles
The prohibition of cocaine criminalizes victims of the cocaine trade and increases health risks for people who use cocaine. Moreover, the illicit cocaine market decreases offer while at the same time it does not decrease demand, thus increasing prices and profits, which creates an ideal situation for organized crime groups to flourish and fund other illegal activities. As a consequence, the cocaine market is highly violent, which has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths over the recent years in Latin America alone. Even more people have disappeared or forcefully displaced and communities and entire societies have been disrupted by violence and corruption, fueled by the illicit cocaine trade. On the other hand, the number of people who use cocaine is growing—both in absolute and relative terms—but pure cocaine is still a rarity on the illicit market. Instead, in order to increase profits, cocaine is cut with a variety of substances that in some cases are more dangerous than cocaine itself, thus increasing risks for the users.
Prohibition of cocaine started in the 1910s, and, nowadays, both demand and retail price are at their historical highs, showing that over a century of prohibition has an adversary effect or no effect at all in the most optimistic scenario. Therefore, Fairtrade Coke believes that regulating the cocaine trade is the only viable alternative. Victims of the cocaine trade would be protected rather than persecuted by laws, legal cocaine companies would operate according to legal rules rather than rules set by firearms and violent coercion, narcodollars would flow into the licit economy and be subject to taxation, and people who use cocaine would not have to turn to the black market, but pay a fair price for a fair product of a known quality that would allow them to use cocaine without additional risks.