Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Importance of the Illegal Drug Trade

According to the 2005 United Nations World Drug Report, the value of the global illicit drug market for the year 2003 was estimated at US$13 billion at the production level, at US$94 billion at the wholesale level, and US$322–$400[5] billion based on retail prices and taking seizures and other losses into account.

From Wikipedia "Illegal Drug Trade"

The Transform Drug Policy Foundation also states that The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has made several attempts to put a figure on the value of the global drug market. In its 1997 World Drugs Report the UNODC estimated the value of the market at US$400bn.[1] This estimate has been widely used by the media and law enforcement agencies but has come under criticism from some experts as being far too high.

The economist Peter Reuter has suggested that an inflated figure has resulted from a confusion between turnover – which may run into hundreds of billions – and international trade which is far lower, because most of the added value is within the borders of consumer countries.[2] An international trade worth 400 billion would put drugs alongside arms and oil amongst the world's biggest traded good. The more likely trade figure is nearer (and probably under) 100 billion – more comparable with the global trade in textiles...

In a seminar paper by Francisco E. Thoumi, published by the Transnational Institute, Thoumi says that an unpublished study by Peter Reuter for the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) resulted in an estimated range between US$45bn and US$280bn.[3

The point has to be made that whether the figure is $100 billion or $400 billion it is a lot of money and the gangs cannot account for more than a fraction of it. The rest has to be somewhere else and the most likely set of suspects are the people who are already handling billions of dollars such as the offshore money laundries connected to "legitimate" financial institutions or the folks who already have a history of involvement in high-level drug trafficking, namely the CIA. See http://www.wakeupfromyourslumber.com/node/6712

Opposition to any reform of the drug laws is understandable. The people most vociferous in their support for the so-called War on Drugs are the people, or are associates of the people, who profit from the drug trade at the higher levels. The insane opposition to cannabis decriminalization also makes sense in light of this. Pot is the physically harmless competitor of all those profitable dangerous drugs and pot decrim could also lead to people wanting a saner approach to coke and smack usage. All of which would put an end to that easy cash flowing in and out of the financial system.

The fact that illegal drugs – and the massive sufferring associated with this black market - may be second only to the arms trade, or at least as large as textiles, points out the decadence of the contemporary economic system. War and drugging people as the biggest sectors of the economy shows a system in profound decay..


Blogger Frank Partisan said...

Colombia is armed to the teeth by the US because of two problems, that because they receive so much aid to fight, drugs and guerillas, both have to be maintained.

Colombia needs FARC to keep getting $$.

My comrades in Venezuela, say FARC should disarm, and give their weapons to the working class.

That's only Colombia.

10:34 PM  
Blogger B. Dewhirst said...

I'd certainly be much more comfortable with a FARC that looked more like the Zapatistas...

9:44 AM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Me too! And I think just about every other socialist or anarchist as well...

5:06 PM  
Blogger Frank Partisan said...

FARC has a Stalinist popular front program.

Even if they won whatever agrarian demands they want, it would not eliminate the need for socialism.

If FARC disarmed and let the hostages go, Plan Colombia would be hard to justify.

Who is kidding who? Tanks for fighting guerillas?

10:24 PM  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Thanks for stopping by at mine Mr. Gambone, China's loss is your gain!

3:02 AM  
Blogger Pat Rogers said...

The U.N. Drug Report's own characterization of the black market economy is the most damning of all.

"Single Most Profitable Sector of Transnational Criminality"

"In the 2005 World Drug Report, UNODC valued the world narcotics trade at some US$320 billion, a figure in keeping with previous estimates from a variety of sources. Estimates for other major illicit flows are considerably less. For example, in 2005 the International Labour Organization estimated the value of global human trafficking to be US$32 billion. Estimates of the value of the trade in conflict diamonds range from 1.5 - 2 per cent to 3 -15 per cent of the overall trade in rough diamonds. Small Arms Survey puts the value of the illicit firearms trade at no more than US$1billion. The relatively high value assigned to the drug trade is understandable because, unlike human beings, diamonds or firearms, the drug supply is consumed each year and in need of continuous renewal. As a result, drug trafficking remains the single most profitable sector of transnational criminality." 2007 U.N. World Drug Report

(I have a chart from the U.N. report posted here: Fantasy Criminal Justice Policy Speech for Sen. Barack Obama)

It is great to see that someone else has recognized the national and global significance of the negative consequences of the drug war created black market economy.

(Most of the negative public safety, public health, national security and democratic continuity consequences and outcomes of the war on drugs all ripple out from the hundreds of billions of dollars a year that are generated.)

Prohibition puts more drugs into the hands of more children by giving the morals and ethics of the tax free sales and distribution of the world's $ 320-billion annual consumer demand for intoxicant drugs into the amoral hands of addict dealers and the unethical self-regulation of gangsters. Both thrive on selling more and more to new generations of children. This is a subsidy program for the growth of crime, addiction and even terrorism.

In Sept. 2006 U.S. foreign policy expert Barnett Rubin told the U.S. congress Foreign Relations Committee: "The international drug control regime, which criminalizes narcotics, does not reduce drug use, but it does produce huge profits for criminals and the armed groups and corrupt officials who protect them. Our drug policy grants huge subsidies to our enemies."

More recently British military expert John A. Glaze wrote a report for the U.S. Army War College that asserted that "an estimated 70 percent of the Taliban’s income now comes from protection money and the sale of opium."

Harm reduction supporters and drug war abolitionists around the world want to see governments stop this subsidy program for criminals and terrorists. Regulate, license and tax out of existence the black market for drugs. Drug war proponents such as John McCain and Barack Obama 'just say no'.

8:33 AM  

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