Pubdate: Mon, 14 May 2007
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2007 Sun-Sentinel Company


ISSUE: Global Effort Losing Ground.

In Europe, the appetite for cocaine is so powerful, the U.S. Drug 
Enforcement Administration's chief likened it to the 1980s cocaine 
craze in America. Africa's porous borders and weak police presence 
have made it a tempting hub for Colombian cocaine cartels moving 
drugs into the expanding European market. And Afghanistan's hefty 
opium poppy production hit a record high last year.

If you thought the global war on terrorism was tough, the war on 
drugs is next to impossible.

And it's no better here in America, home to 4 percent of the world's 
population but responsible for the consumption of two-thirds of its 
illegal drugs, according to the National Center on Addiction and 
Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

Despite upbeat pronouncements in years past, cocaine prices in the 
United States have actually dropped and its purity increased, making 
it a bigger, more affordable draw in an attentive market. More than a 
decade after the number of illegal drug users fell to a 25-year low 
of 12 million in 1992, it spiked to 20 million users in 2005.

Things clearly are not going well for the war on drugs. It's time to 
retool, or at least rethink, the U.S. strategy, the linchpin of which 
has been a $5 billion effort to fight the drug industry in Colombia.

Plan Colombia, based on combating the drug problem at its source, was 
a reasonable tactic. Colombia supplies 90 percent of the cocaine 
consumed in America and much of the crop abused worldwide. And the 
effort has had some success. This month, the United Nations estimated 
that the amount of Colombian land used to grow coca, from which 
cocaine is derived, dropped by nearly 10 percent last year.

But it's not enough. America, and the world, needs a fresh approach 
because never has the global fight against drugs, which are used to 
finance terrorist activity, been more essential.

BOTTOM LINE: Increase Efforts To Combat Drug Abuse
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