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500 word discussion response heather

500 words total, 2 sources total. 250 words per numbered paragraph below and one source each.

1. The coca plant was once utilized by the indigenous people of the Andes region in South America; they would chew on the leaves for the nutritional value that the leaves could provide for the lack of nutrient rich foods in the mountainous region. This plant was utilized for medical purposes by the indigenous people, but during the nineteenth century the European explorers began to use see the benefits that the alkaloids that the coca plants had, this is how the invention of cocaine was derived (Gootenberg, 2008). The famous Dr. Freud had been attributed to using cocaine for analytical purposes for numerous months and noted the benefits both physically and psychological; it was also noted that he would prescribe this to his girlfriend and friends. Throughout the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, cocaine was widely utilized for “both medical and recreational purposes until it gradually lost its prominent popularity” (Gootenberg, 2008). Cocaine was utilized in many different products throughout Europe and the United States, such as Coke the soda-pop brand.

The illegal drug that we know today as cocaine did not start to have a significant impact until the 1980s despite being first developed in the late 1800s. The coca plant is grown in areas in South America that are considered to extremely poor and underdeveloped, these crops are considered to be a stable source of income because the coca plant is easy to cultivate (Vellinga, 2007). The coca plant is one that has the ability to thrive in the mountainous areas in the South American countries. With the number of low-income farmers in these areas, this was crop was extremely reliable; but when this crop cultivated into an illegal drug the dangerous increased for all parties involved.

The coca plant crop has once seen as a legal venture and means for a steady income for the farmers, but soon has really shed light on the amount of crime that comes directly from cultivating and producing cocaine from the coca plant. The coca plant is relatively inexpensive to plant and grow, and at one point it was considered a normal crop to grow; in roughly a ten year period the growth and expansion of the coca plant spread from areas throughout Bolivia, Peru, Columbia and other areas in South America (Vellinga, 2007). The more countries that were becoming involved with this growth of the coca plant, the increase of gang activity, violence and other illegal activities increased as well. The industry has significant influences on both legal and illegal trading throughout the world. In many of the countries in South America, the increase of illegal activities began after the 1980s when the cocaine industry began to be traded internationally. According to Vellinga (2007), the cultivation of the coca plant had many different effects on the economy as well as the political areas of these South American countries; these countries have been trained and thought to think that the coca plant and cocaine industry is a legal means of creating profits as well as be socially acceptable. With this industry, comes illegal areas as well, the increase of violence and traffickers have taken advantage of this industry.

The increase of the popularity of the drug during the 1980s and 1990s in the United States has changed the ways in which this illegal market was being handled, prior to the 1990s, cocaine was trafficked by different type of drug dealers and they were different than any type of drug dealers of the past. They had different approaches to get the drugs to different areas of the world. According to Vellinga (2007), the typical value of cocaine could be roughly 80 dollars per kilo at cost and would be increased to about 150 dollars when sold on the illicit market. Large crime organizations began to see the cocaine industry as one that can give them power throughout these poverty-stricken countries.


Gootenberg, P. (2008). Andean cocaine: The making of a global drug. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Vellinga, M. (2007). The illegal drug industry in Latin America: The coca-cocaine commodity value chain. Ibero-Americana, 37(2), 89-105,3,7. Retrieved from

In conducting additional research outside of this week’s readings, defend whether the legalization of all drugs would decrease or increase drug related violence/crimes. As part of this response make sure to touch on drug cartels.

2. Many of the drugs that are illegal today, were at one point in time legal in the United States; during the Civil War one primary drug that was frequently used was morphine. According to Against Drug Prohibition (n.d.), other drugs including marijuana and cocaine were utilized for many different medical purposes from pain management to sinusitis. I think that throughout history it has shown that when the government has placed restrictions on certain substances, it creates more violence and gives organized crime organizations (such as the mob, cartel or gangs) the opportunity to engage in the illegal market to gain a profit. During the Harrison Act in 1918, the United States was to be an alcohol-free country, the once widely accepted use of alcohol would soon mean one could be arrested for the consumption or possession of alcohol. The prohibition thus created the opportunities for people to become involved with the illegal black market and this increased violence in the United States at the time.

I believe that while currently believe that the legalization of all drugs could reduce violent crimes throughout the United States, I don’t think that is a realistic expectation. I think that the legalization of all drugs could potentially be beneficial for our criminal justice system, because it could reduce the amount of those that are convicted of drug charges. During the 1980s War on Drugs, the United States government spent billions of dollars to prevent the spread of cocaine, heroin and other illicit drugs from entering the United States. While this “war of drugs” during the 1980s and 1990s was intended to prevent many of these drugs from entering the United States, this led to many of the high-profile organized crime units to profit off of these drugs. According to De La Rosa , Lambert , & Gropper, (1990) during the 1980s, there was an increase of random acts of violence that was attributed to the war on drugs of crack cocaine.
I think that it would be more realistic to have drugs first decriminalized to see what the benefits that could create. Arrest rates among minorities within the United States is roughly the same as Caucasians; but there is a racial inequality of those that are convicted of drug related offenses. The United States should shift its focus from drug use as illegal and more towards seeking solutions for drug abuse, prevention and crime that is created from prohibiting these drugs. Decriminalizing of all drugs within the United States would mean that there would be an elimination of penalties for both drug use and drug possession, as well as possession of drug use equipment. The benefits could lower the amount of violence, especially violence within correctional facilities. According to Drug Decriminalization (n.d.), roughly 80 percent of those incarcerated each year are drug related offenses and are not considered violent crimes. According to De La Rosa, Lambert & Gropper (1990), there is more violence attributed to selling drugs; the most violence that occurs with selling drugs is associated with rival drug deals either with fighting or robbery. I think that while decriminalization can assist in lowering violence among users, I do think that there will still be violence among the dealers.


Against Drug Prohibition. (n.d.). Retrieved from

De La Rosa, M., Lambert, E. Y., & Gropper, B. (1990). Drugs and violence: Causes, correlates and consequences. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Drug Decriminalization. (n.d.). Retrieved from…

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