Drugs & Drug Trafficking – The growing storm

Press Conference on Launch of UN Fund for Human Trafficking Victims

Drug Trafficking is a menace that has struck our society hard. In recent times, it has grown into a monster big enough to be a threat perhaps on the same level as that of terrorism. It has engulfed states all across the globe, and if left unchecked, will shatter our society into pieces. The UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) defined drug trafficking as “a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws.” Definitions are important because a law is built on it, and laws in turn provide the ground for action against criminals. The question is what is the best way to fight this phenomenon which is expanding rapidly year by year?

The single most important reason as to why a business thrives is because of the demand of a product. The popularity of illegal drugs today cannot be overlooked. It is largely hidden, but it is there. The World Drug Report found that in 2010, there had been around 230 million people around the world who were said to have used illicit drugs. 230 million out of a billion seems to be a tiny number and looks all but insignificant. However, that number is greater than the entire population of most countries!

Countering drug trafficking is a process which is likely to stretch out over many years. The war on drugs is tricky because it is a war which has no clear enemy. The situation in Mexico is a telling example of how stubborn the drug trading business is. A direct attack on their livelihood leads to an equally extreme response. As long as they have a market, they will fight to sustain it. Drugs are harmful mainly because of the notorious effects on users, which in turn is detrimental to the society at large. Also, illegal trafficking leads to enormous loss of revenue for governments. The key to tackling drugs trafficking lies in reducing the demand. It is a simple theory. As long as the demand is there, drugs will somehow find its way to the user.

There needs to be a campaign against drug trafficking on a similar level to that of the campaign against smoking. People still smoke. However, today everyone is aware of the fact that it is harmful. Our attitudes towards smoking have changed. There are very few today who still consider it to be fashionable. The majority of us regard smoking as a wasteful practice. In short, there needs to be enough awareness around so that it discourages people from the idea of taking drugs.

As well as that, it is vital that drug users should be treated as victims rather than as criminals. In a lot of the places, drug users are shoved into the prison or charged a heavy fine. By treating them as criminals, we create an environment where the energy is spent on punishing victims rather than the perpetrators. Those who are addicted, need help, not further misery.

In a nutshell, it all comes down to how we project drugs as in our society. If there is widespread awareness and education, if its demon is communicated properly to the people, then naturally the demand will begin to fall. And with the demand, the supply will too.

 

Maitreya Thakur

 

Sources

UNODC Drug report 2012

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