Drug Trade

The trade of illegal drugs has been carried out globally for a long time now and the trade has been carried in black markets. The emergence of the trade of illicit drugs has resulted from the global laws that prohibit their use. The trade of drugs involves the farmers, manufactures as well as those involved in sale and supply of the final product which are classified as illicit by the drug probation laws. It is only under license that most jurisdictions allow the trade of the illicit drug. The global vastness of the illegal trade and usage of illegal drugs has become an issue of major concern. In fact, the struggle to end the illicit trade has been called a monster. Pollard claims that of the worlds GDP, drug market posses 0.9% which is at times higher. Examples of the drugs regarded as illegal include; methamphetamine, temazepam, cannabis, heroin, and cocaine among others. The opiates (heroin and cocaine) have emerged to pose major challenges in fighting their legality because most people use them. This research paper will discuss the history of drug trafficking, the cultivation, the various effects on the society and the world economy, and the solutions. The paper ends in a conclusion that summarizes the major points of finding.

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Background of Drug Trade

Drugs of various types have been consumed by humans for thousands of years. The use of marijuana for medicinal use has been dated to 2737 B.C. in China. It was until 19th century A.D the extraction of active substance in drugs began. Time came when some of these newly discovered substances such as cocaine, morphine, opium and laudanum were completely unregulated. Physicians prescribed freely these active substances for a wide variety of ailments. Substances of this kind were present in patent medicine and their sale was carried via mail, in drug stores as well as by traveling tinkers. Morphine was used by wounded veterans during the American civil war and occasionally returned home with their kits of morphine and hypodermic needles. By the time the year 1900 was ending, opium had proliferated to an extent that it increased the United States addicts to 250,000 approximately.

The increase of drug addition raised alarm that saw legal measures being put in place to regulate the improper use of drugs. The first time for the United States to establish drug laws was in 1875 when San Francisco banned opium dens. The initial law on drugs was made on 1906 as an Act of pure foods and drugs. Schools in most states had come up with anti-drug education by 1930s. The anti-drug education was stopped when the concerned parties feared that individuals would experiment and thus end up using the drugs. The law against drugs required that patent medicines with opium as well as other drugs should be labeled accurately. The Harrison Narcotic Act establishment in 1914 only permitted licensed pharmacies and doctors to trade in opium and cocaine containing drugs although the use of heroin was completely banned afterwards.

Prescription of narcotics to addicts was illegalized by the Supreme Court that in a succession manner. Most of the doctors were jailed after prescribing addictive doses and this reduced that illegal practice. By 1920s, narcotics as well as cocaine were no longer used.

The next step was to fight the use of marijuana which the enforcing administrators claimed that it is addictive and would cause one to be addicted to the use of narcotic. In 1950s the use of marijuana as well as that of amphetamines increased. Numerous laws have been formulated to fight the use of illicit drugs because their use is perceived differently with change of time. By 1970 the law had taken punitive measures like giving a jail term to discourage the illicit trade as well as use. All the federal laws that governed the use of illicit drugs were replaced by the 1970 Act that controlled and prevented their use. It was also made illegal to be in possession of drugs. Those who were caught distributing or manufacturing drugs were punished severely. The aim of the act was to deter the use, regulate trafficking as well as treating the abusers. Following is analysis of cultivation as an aspect of the drug trade.

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Cultivation is also a part of the illicit trade of drugs. Drug trafficking and use became prominent starting in the 1960s when laws controlling use of drug were drafted. One may question why drug trafficking is existing. As mentioned earlier, use of illicit drugs lead to addiction. Addiction makes the drug user so dependent on the chosen drug such that normal survival becomes an issue. An addict is forced to search for the drug and this leads to drug trafficking. Practically cultivation of drug plants is financially more rewarding as compared to most food crops. As a result, farmers will opt to grow drug plants leading to illegal market for their product. Farmers may also be compelled to produce illicit drugs under the threat of violence from criminal traffickers. The cultivation of drugs used as medicine has been regulated strictly. For instance coca bush cannabis plant and opium poppy are grown for medical purposes. The current medicine however limits the use of cocaine as well as cannabis. Morphine and codeine extracted from opium poppy are used in modern medicine hence opium poppy can be cultivated to a limited degree under strictly controlled conditions. Any other cultivation is illegal.

Opium poppy is grown in the Golden Triangle which is Mexicans and Turkeys Golden Crescent. Individuals living close to poppy cultivators use opium in high quantities. This is so because opium trafficking is faced by lots of difficulties. The bulkiness and the extreme odor of opium make it unsuitable for trafficking. For these reasons, opium is converted to heroin for trafficking internally. Coca is grown in western South America, specifically in Peru, Bolvia, which also grows cannabis or marijuana.

Jamaican, Mexican as well as Andes cultivated cannabis is trafficked to the United States. Afghanistan leads the world in trading heroin. In 2007, Afghanistan produced 93% of the worlds market opiates. Some of the revenue from production went to the opium farmers and the rest went to other individuals like district officials and drug traffickers. Smugglers as well as heroin dealers prefer selling it because it yields higher profits than cocaine. The fact that many doses can be contained in a minute vessel which is quarter in size makes heroin easy to be smuggled. French Connection supplied US with heroin between 1930s and early 1970s. During the era of Vietnam War, heroin was trafficked to the United States in coffins of the American soldiers who had passed away. From this period of war, it was hard to import drugs to the United States than it was had been prior to the war although it was still smuggled.

Cannabis use is illegal in most countries although in some, it is used for recreational. Many regions prescribe cannabis while methamphetamine is also famously distributed. This drug is manufactured in the labs and is commonly referred to as crystal-meth, meth and ice in the streets. Between 1999 and 2009, reports of incidents concerning cannabis had reduced. On the other hand, methamphetamine related incidents increased at the same time in many regions.

Increased incidents happened in 2004 in most of the regions together with increased treatments of the drug addiction of the same. There are numerous ways of Methamphetamine use. It can be used in an injectable form-this places users and their partners at risk of HIV transmission as well as Hepatitis C as it is common to share syringes and needles. "Meth" form is inhaled although it is often vaporized on a foil such as an aluminum one. A tube can also be constructed to become a pipe that can vaporize the meth. The injectible form is better than the inhaled from which causes a rush. Tik is the name given to methamphetamine in Africa particularly in South Africa. The substance is being abused by children of a tender age who smoke it. The reason for methamphetamines availability in high quantities is because it is easily produced.

Temazepam is another illicitly manufactured drug whose manufactures supply its high international demand. Temazepam is a prescription drug that is legal but its production and use has been done illegally in many countries most especially in the UK. Sweden has banned the use of temazepam because its use has many problems and high mortality rates. Following is an analysis of the impact of the illicit trade on both the society and the economy.

Impact/Effect on the Society

The society has been affected negatively in various ways by the illegal drug trade. The most affected places are the countries that manufacture or cultivate these drugs. For instance Golden Crescent areas make high use of opium. This is so because opium trafficking is faced by lots of difficulties. The countries that receive the drugs that are imported illegally also suffer from drug prohibition problems. Ecuador is an example of countries which has suffered because of the refugees who ran away from drug related wars and they had to give them a place to hide.

Violent crimes have also resulted from the trade of illicit drugs. Numerous investigations have proved that illicit trade of drugs causes crimes like murder. The high cost of addictive drugs has been associated with the drug wars that have been there in the United Kingdom. Drug- related wars have been waged along the coastal region where drugs are smuggled in order to achieve their transport. Among the crimes associated are robberies, burglaries and shoplifting.

The engagement of young generation in drug trafficking has become a major concern for many countries. Youths have been reported to engage in the sale of illegal drugs. Teenagers are also engaging in the business as well as abuse. Students have also been affected by the illegal trade with many kids being engaged in their abuse as well as business. Marijuana is among the drugs which have been found easily by school going kids. The efforts to capture those abusing marijuana have not been fruitful. As a result, students practicing this vice do not complete their studies successfully. They end up dropping out of school because it is not easy to serve more than one master especially where drugs are involved.

Trade of illicit drug has caused a lot of problems for the entire society because those who do not abuse drugs are affected by those using them. For instance, parents get a hard time trying to look for school fees for their children who traffic drugs and end up wasting all that effort. The effects are however not all negative because the government can get a lot of revenue from the tax of these illicit drugs. This revenue can then be channeled to the society in form of bursaries and development fund among others Furthermore, the war on drugs will never be easy and thus the chances to win it are slim. In my opinion, the drugs are better legalized than illegalized because the former has fewer benefits than the latter.

Impact/Effects on economy

UNODC estimates the value of the illegal drug market at US $ 400 billion in the year 1997 alongside that of oil and arms. In 2007, the UK Home Office gave an estimate of the illicit drugs in the UK at many billions annually. In 2009, the revenue from the drug industry was claimed to save the banks from collapsing. However, this claim was not supported by everyone like Costa which disagreed with the view.

It is not easy to give credit to the merit side of this illicit trade because the negative side overwhelms it. There are many side effects that these drugs have on the addicts. An example is liver complications through the inflammation caused by addiction to heroin. The mechanism of inflammation occurs via a virus which is transmitted by sharing of needles used to inject the drug. The symptoms resulting include swelling of the liver as well as inflammation that occurs in light color and in irregular patterns which are spread allover. Hepatitis causes weakness, appetite loss, tenderness in the abdomen, dark-colored urine, and a yellowish change in the color of the skin. The addict becomes impaired and can hardly contribute to the growth of a nations economy. Instead a large amount of cash is used in the management of the disease.

There are many other disorders that are caused by addiction of illicit drugs. Methamphetamine for example makes the addict nervous, anxious, convulses and can have a heart attack. The abuse of some drugs cause fatal problems which are very costly to the economy.

In most cases, the markets for legal crops are unstable blocked with protectionist measures and usually offering prices below production costs. Illegal crops unlike legal crops have ready markets, high profits and fewer risks to farmers. Many poor farmers are therefore pushed to the cultivation of poppies, coca leaf and cannabis for survival. Drug trafficking involves many people with the organizers being at the top. They are the high persons enjoying an incredible cash flow. The people on the ground hardly benefit from the trade and are at a higher risk of facing the repercussions of the law against drug trafficking.

Besides these negative impacts on the economy, the illicit trade involves a lot of money and hence there is a lot of profit that these people get. If the trade was made legal, the government could collect huge revenue from the tax. This revenue in turn could help in developing the economy especially when there is a recession. Furthermore the expenditure incurred by the legal system could be channeled to other economic projects. Following is an analysis of the solutions available for the illicit drug trade.

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The major solution to the trade of illicit drugs lies in either criminalizing or discriminating these drugs. If the trade is illegalized, there are more disadvantages than when it is made legal. In my own opinion, drugs should be legalized. Legalization of drugs means allowing their sale and use with minimal regulation. Drugs should be legalized in USA because I believe their benefits outweigh their harms. The most common types of drugs that are debated about are such as Marijuana, heroin and cocaine which are under fairly restricted conditions. Legalization also means creating a substance abuse policy as well as avoiding relying on criminal sanctions. I believe legalization of drugs will enable USA to avoid pouring billions of money in trying to enforce the drug law and instead concentrate with educating the citizens on the dangers of drug abuse and also treating the infected. It seems as if the great cry of legalize drugs is being heard everywhere, and more people coming out to support this, claiming that it is the only way to win the drug war. In my opinion, the problem is not the drugs, but the large amounts of untaxed money that is directed to the criminals. Legalizing the usage of drugs like marijuana and heroin would yield as much revenue as alcohol and tobacco to the countries economy. There are also several other benefits of this measure as explained below.

To begin with, legalizing these drugs will mean less drug traffickers who will be convicted and this in turn will reduce the overcrowding in our prisons. Studies have shown that the prison environments have become very uncondusive and very dangerous for those put behind bars. Prisons are meant to punish the serious criminals but as it has been noted that overcrowding is due to the drug offenders. The report shown by the statistical abstract of the United States in 1988, most of the people in federal and state prisons grew by 57.8% faster than the general population, and among those sentenced were the drug law violators. The state keeps on building more prisons with the countries money which could otherwise be used in more beneficial activities.

Another reason why drugs should be legalized is because of the benefit obtained by those who sell the legal drugs. This is because they currently fail to enjoy most of the consumer safety measures like the warning labels and product quality control. In turn some of the legal drugs are manufactured underground causing them to become equally dangerous. After the drug legalization, the pharmaceuticals will eventually try to win more customers trust and even sell more reliable products. By reducing the crimes, a reduction would also be noted in the income generated from the crimes organized by smugglers and pushers who would either have to go out of business or make clean their businesses by registering them. As a result the government flow of revenue would be increased.

Additionally, legalizing drugs would reduce corruption cases greatly since the police officers who offer protection to the drug traffickers would not do so anymore. The police chief and investigator of Miami reported that most of the police officers are alleged to be drug traffickers themselves and since 1985, more that 59 officers have been sacked in relation to these crimes. By elimination of the drug related crimes, we would be unclogging our courts and the legislation would remove thousands of cases from the court docket and this way the prosecutors would have more time to review their cases as well as the judges who will deal with other cases more thoroughly. It has also been noted that with the legalizing of drugs then the injecting needles would also be cheap and available hence the urge to have the drugs users to share them would be reduced. As a result, the spread of AIDS and other diseases would also reduce. Therefore, legalizing drugs will generally give America a new chance to repair its reputation and gain mutual respect internationally.


The trade of illicit drugs has been there for several years now. Their market is second largest from that of arms. The illegality of drugs trade involves their cultivation, their manufacture, their sale and supply. The trade of illicit drugs has numerous effects on both the economy and the society at large. The major solution that has been found to ending the trade of illegal drugs is legalizing the business because the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Furthermore, the fight against their sale will never be successful. The legal system should therefore work towards legalizing the trade of illicit drugs.

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