The causes of illegal drug industry growth in the Andes, Anti-Drug Policies and their effectiveness
AuthorThoumi, Francisco E.
Illegal drugs have become a key and conflictive policy issue in the Andean countries. Anti-drug polices are today part of government policy agendas and the object of frequent debate. In 1961 the United Nations signed the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. This was followed by the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Drugs and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. In1972 President Nixon declared a “war on drugs” raising drug issues in the policy agenda of the United States and other countries. It is clear that governments’ have been attempting to control and regulate mind-altering drugs use for a long time. Their results, however, have been at best highly questionable. Today cocaine and heroin are widely available, new drugs have appeared in the market, new markets have developed and new criminal and subversive organizations entered the illegal drug business. Advocates of current policies would argue that without them things would be worse. Those who oppose them content that policies themselves are at fault and have contributed to increase the social costs of drug production, trafficking and consumption. The debate about anti-drug policy effectiveness most of the time is emotionally charged and does not advance the understanding of drug phenomena. This essay analyses the nature of the drug policy formulation problem, describes a theory of competitive advantage in illicit drugs, draws some policy implications from this theory, analyses the characteristics of the main drug producing countries that make them prone to develop the illicit drugs industry, surveys the evolution of anti-drug policies in the Andean countries, discuses some of the main challenges confronted by the policies currently used, summarizes the main effects that the illegal drug industry development have had on those countries, assesses the viability of drug policy reform and makes a few suggestions to marginally modify some policies and to improve policy dialogue as a pre-requisite to improve drug policy effectiveness.
- Facultad de Economía