Pubdate: Tue, 20 Nov 2007
Source: Post-Bulletin (Rochester, MN)
Column: Teen Beat
Copyright: 2007 Post-Bulletin Company, LLC
Author: Andrea Villarraga
Bookmark: (Opinion)


After the countless, monotonous lectures and  educational pamphlets 
I've received over the years, I  like to think of myself as pretty 
well-informed when it  comes to illegal drugs. I've heard all about 
the  effects of cocaine, marijuana, LSD, methane and speed.  I know 
grades drop, concentration diminishes and  relationships suffer. I 
even have a brief notion of how  some of these drugs work at the 
neuronal synapse level.

In other words, I know how drugs would affect me if I  chose to take 
them. This is the goal of the bulk of  education about illegal drugs, 
especially in high  school. Adults (parents in particular) want kids 
to  know how horrid life will become for the addict if they  begin 
consuming. The information people receive about  drugs mainly 
concentrates on the effects on the  individual.

The effects on the rest of the world are largely left out.

What happens to the countries that grow and export the  cocaine, the 
opium, the marijuana? Just like what  happens to any heavy drug 
addict, drugs infiltrate  countries like Afghanistan and Colombia at 
every  imaginable level.

The drug industry impacts drug-producing countries  economically. 
Currently, illicit drugs are in demand,  and this is reflected in the 
amount of drug money that  enters drug-exporting countries. Many of 
these  countries' economies are even built around or supported  by 
the drug trade: much of Jamaica's economy would  collapse if they 
discontinued the growth and export of  marijuana. In other countries, 
laundering drug money is  a major issue. Also, since 
illegally-attained money  cannot be taxed, a small percent of the 
population (the  Mafia) often becomes uncontrollably rich while 
honest,  rule-abiding citizens struggle with poverty.

Take a look at most of the major drug trafficking  countries in the 
world such as Bolivia, Brazil, China,  Ecuador, Haiti, India, 
Nigeria, Pakistan and Vietnam,  and you'll understand how deeply the 
drug trade is  entrenched into their political and judicial 
systems.  Dirty dollars and Euros are tossed around by drug 
lords  all over the system; with them, they influence the  passing of 
laws that favor the trafficking of  narcotics. They bribe lawyers, 
judges, witnesses and law enforcement agencies.

If you were to buy a ounce of coke, you'd be funding,  among other 
things, international terrorism,  paramilitaries, guerrilla armies, 
the Mafia's private  armies, wars, revenge murders, abductions and 
the displacement of millions of innocents. The message that  we most 
often get from anti-drug education is that  drugs will destroy your 
own life. Very few times will  you run across an educator that will 
stress the number  of others you'll take down with you.

For you, drugs might be a form of Friday-night  recreation or the 
object of rebellious curiosity. Just  remember that for somebody 
else, drugs are the  difference between poverty and wealth, between 
corruption and integrity. For at least one person in  the world, the 
choice you make at a party in Rochester,  could mean the difference 
between life and death.

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Andrea Villarraga is a sophomore at Lourdes High  School.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom