I am, as long-standing readers will know, a drippy liberal when it comes to drugs. But the moral case against encouraging cocaine traffic strikes me as hard to answer.
When I was in Colombia earlier this year, the Vice-President showed me some of the ecological consequences of cultivation: the felling of rainforests and the drying up of soil (coca is a thirsty crop). He struggled to understand how eco-conscious Europeans could blithely fund such devastation.
He has a point. The people who hoover up the most coke tend, in my experience, to be finicky consumers in any other context. They drink fair trade coffee. They recycle conscientiously. They won't wear fur. They regard oil corporations as devilish. But, when it comes to their narcotic of choice, they are happy to sustain an industry that wrecks natural habitats, condemns small farmers to the tyranny of racketeers, props up corrupt regimes and inhibits the spread of democracy.
Some people here have questioned how I can be both libertarian and take drugs (bearing in mind the damage that they do abroad) and I must confess that it is something of difficult point. Even were one to make drugs legal here, they might still cause damage through their illegality overseas.
It seems pointless to point out, yet again, that a great deal of the damage done by cocaine cultivation, that Dan highlights, is a consequence of its illegality—and the same applies to other drugs too.
If there is one single stupid and, possibly, evil act that can be laid at the door of the USA, it is that country's drive to make drugs illegal internationally. As I keep saying, do go and read the IEA's Prohibitions [free PDF book] for the whole sorry story.