High Costs Related to Drug Use Essay

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DRUG USE RELATED COSTS Background of the problem It is known that the major economic costs from drugs use are due to incarcerations and crime rather than to drug use itself (Keefer, Loayza, & Soares, 2010). In Colombia, it is estimated that 20% of the cocaine and 70% of the marijuana produced is consumed domestically (Cawley, 2013), most of it in underground spots called ollas. The gathering of drug traffickers, addicts, and criminals in these places has spawned crime and insecurity in all cities. The Colombian government has tried some measures to reduce these externalities of drug use, but they have not been enough nor adequate. In 2012, possession and consumption of minimal doses of marijuana and cocaine were decriminalized1. This was …show more content…

Policy options to reduce drug use related crime There are three main policies that could be considered in order to tackle ollas and the crime related costs they generate. 1. Continue intervening “ollas” The government could foster the “Operation Green Heart” to intervene ollas, just as the President announced it would do (Cawley, 2013). But this strategy would be ineffective and may even cause larger harms. Until now the strategy has not shown real long term remarkable results in reducing crime and consumption. At most, it has only created a “balloon effect” displacing ollas a few blocks temporarily; time after the intervention, when police and public employees are gone, dealers and consumers come back. Furthermore, intervening big ollas could have split some of them geographically into smaller ones, making the situation even worse (FIP, 2013). The operation captured 1.843 people participating in drug trafficking, including 42 important drug lords. Despite these captures, distribution networks remain intact because gangs have found replacements to reestablish their chain easily (FIP, 2013). There has been no effect on the supply of drugs, but a massive incarceration of minor drug dealers. Given the results so far, and considering that there are more than 3.000 ollas identified of which just 25 were raid last year when the operation began, there is no evidence

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