One of the most severe recent indictments of U.S. drug policy in the Andes comes from an unusual source: a fashion magazine.
In September 2006 (old news, but CIP doesn’t have a subscription), â€œWâ€ magazine – one of the most-circulated fashion publications in the United States, ran a six-paragraph article contending that â€œcocaine is fast regaining its status as the party drug of choice for the young and fabulous.â€
Coke is back, and everyone–from the staffs of major fashion houses and the young social set to underage celebrities and their hangers-on–is hoovering it. â€œIt’s like smoking a cigarette; nobody cares,â€ says one fashion insider. … In the last year, such casual use has become so prevalent that the country’s high-end rehabilitation centers are already feeling the effects. As Richard Rogg, the CEO of the upscale Promises treatment facility in Malibu, California, points out, â€œIt’s definitely on the rise in New York We are getting some pretty high-functioning people out of the city who are addicted to cocaine.â€
We have known that cocaine supplies have been unaffected by â€œPlan Colombiaâ€ and other militarized, supply-side strategies in the Andes. The price of cocaine is lower now than it was when Plan Colombia began; â€œWâ€ magazine notes that â€œthe going rate for a gram of coke in New York has dropped from $100 to $60.â€
The United States has at least had the luck of seeing demand for the drug remain flat over the past ten years or so. Cocaine has been out of style among the drug-consuming public, who have turned of late to marijuana, heroin and synthetic drugs like Ecstasy and methamphetamines. Cocaine has been relatively passÃ©, associated with the ’70s disco culture, the ’80s greed decade, and the devastating crack plague of the late ’80s and early ’90s.
When a top U.S. fashion magazine forecasts a coming boom in cocaine use, though, it can only be good news for Colombia’s guerrilla and paramilitary groups (as well as other powerful Colombians who benefit from the drug economy).
If â€œWâ€ is correct – and if more Americans follow the example of their more fabulous fellow citizens – there will be more money for weapons, more money for murder, and more money to dismantle the rule of law in Colombia.
This latest tidbit comes from an unorthodox source of information. But it offers further evidence that Plan Colombia has failed as a counter-drug strategy. The need for a new direction is becoming ever more urgent.