Saturday, July 16, 2005

BBC NEWS | Europe | Cocaine traces at EU parliament

The implication of all these is of course a swipe at the people in the EU parliament who MIGHT POSSIBLY BE snorting coke. It seems that of the 46 swabs taken from various toilets and public places of the building, nearly all (41) tested positive for cocaine in amounts beyond trace ones i.e. was brought into the building deliberately for consumption.

What lends this story some credence (the method of collection and testing is not really scientifically rigourous, and the fact that since these were public areas, obviously the general public had access to them) is that such traces are not found in all public places, the example given being German high schools. Contrast this to the fact that most currency (US and EU) have traces of cocaine on it such that a sufficiently big pile could send sniffer dogs into a frenzy.

The biggest difficulty that Europe has with regards to drugs is that of enforcement. After all, it's a land continent, every part being immediately and conveniently accessable by roads. The single market means that the roads are perpetually loaded with trucks and their produce, and more fundamentally, it acts like a super big state. So just as no one really bothers to check goods moving from one city to another, the EU has this on a broader scale with goods moving from one state to another. This on top of the problem of whether they could even properly check the goods with the volumes that we're talking about (80% of the trade by the EU occurs within the EU, the remaining with the other nations of the world).

Arguably, the incentive for enforcement is that by taking down the drug money, you cut off a significant source of funding for terrorist cells and organisations. The question remains, WHICH terrorist cells and organisations. After all, while it is certifiably true that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) is a significant playing in the cocaine business and receives a lot of its operating expences from it, the same cannot be said of organisation like the ex IRA which made a practice of kneecaping drug peddlers in their neighbourhoods. Al-Qaeda has had links to the drug trade via the Taleban and opium in Afghanistan but that its pretty much limited to one drug which has a limited appeal (as far as I know), it's hard to see their funding being cut off even if a crackdown on drug smuggling were possible.

Which makes for a very good argument about legalisation....but that's an old debate which I have touched on previously.

But anyway back to the original article, it really isn't a terribly big surprise. Unlike heroine, cocaine is primarily a middle/upper class drug. Very popular with the traders on wall-street in the 1970s, it has made the transition to some sort of sophisticated party drug for the young and well-heeled.

Which brings me finally to the punchline of today's short post. It seems that the reason why most people were upset at the Swiss proposal to provide cocaine was not its illegal and immoral nature. After all, they already have a heroine shooting centres and needle exchange programme going on. It seems that most people found subsidising the drug addiction of rich bankers a little too much to swallow.

Peace =)


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