Colombia Breaks Records for Cocaine Production
Coca cultivation is booming in Colombia, despite recent changes in the political landscape, signaling that slowing production may be even more difficult than anticipated.
Colombia’s prominence in cocaine production is long established and well documented. In 2017, the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that more than 171,000 hectares of Colombia’s land were planted with coca leaves, the key ingredient that cocaine is derived from. That means that enough coca was grown to produce a staggering 1,379 tonnes of cocaine, a 31% increase from the previous year. The vast majority of this cocaine will be exported, fuelling addictions and the need for cocaine addiction treatment around the world.
Cocaine, Civil War and Colombia
The massive increase in coca production is occurring despite the country’s attempts to curb the cultivation of coca across broad swaths of Colombia’s fertile farmlands. This is due to long links between coca production and political unrest. Colombia has been locked in civil war for decades, a conflict which saw hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced.
Taxing the sale of coca, which is typically grown by poor farmers in Colombia’s rural, conflict-affected areas, has been critical in funding armed groups involved in the civil war. However, in 2016 the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), the largest opposition group in the country, inked a peace deal with the Colombian government, leading some to speculate that this new peace may have positive results for the coca problem.
An Uncertain Switch
As part of the ensuing peace process, plans were made to formalise land ownership for farmers and employ a crop substitution programme. The programme would support farmers switching from coca legal crops like cacao and coffee, which in principle could drastically decrease the amount of coca produced.
However, in the wake of the peace deal between Farc and the government, numerous other armed groups have moved into formerly Farc-occupied areas and assumed control of coca cultivation, forcing farmers to continue growing, often at gunpoint.
Additionally, the government has been accused of forcibly eradicating coca crops before substitution programmes have been enacted, undermining trust among local farmers who have no other opportunities for income.
Factors like these have led to an increase in coca production despite efforts to combat it, and have at least temporarily secured Colombia’s place as a leading producer of cocaine.
The Serious Consequences of Cocaine Use
To understand more about Colombia’s coca problem, you can read the full story on the issue here. The unrestricted flow of cocaine into the global underground economy merged with popular demand has created a perfect storm for addiction. Cocaine remains one of the most addictive drugs available, and even low doses can result in a variety of negative side effects including:
- Elevated blood pressure and heart rate
- Unpredictable violent behaviour
High doses of the drug can cause seizures, brain haemorrhage, stroke, heart attack and kidney failure, all of which can potentially result in a coma or death.
If you suspect that you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to cocaine, there are many reasons to seek professional help. Contact us to learn more about the variety of treatment options available and start your journey to recovery today.