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Colombian Drug Control Policies and Data

  1. Basic Data

    Prevalence of Drug use in the General Population, 2008
    Year of the Survey: 2008. Age Group Surveyed: 12-65 y.o.
    Type of Drug Lifetime
    (percentage)
    Last 12 Months
    (percentage)
    Last 30 Days
    (percentage)
    Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female Total
    Alcohol 90.26 82.40 86.08 71.95 51.72 61.18 46.06 24.83 34.77
    Tobacco 56.25 34.15 44.49 29.07 14.76 21.46 23.81 11.13 17.06
    Solvents or Inhalants 1.29 0.29 0.76 0.36 0.10 0.22 0.16 0.02 0.09
    Marijuana 12.78 3.77 7.99 3.79 0.93 2.27 2.81 0.54 1.60
    Heroin 0.38 0.03 0.19 0.04 0.01 0.02 0.03 0.00 0.02
    Cocaine HCl 4.16 1.00 2.48 1.28 0.22 0.72 0.84 0.08 0.43
    Coca Paste 1.93 0.36 1.09 0.31 0.05 0.17 0.17 0.04 0.10
    Tranquilizers*, Sedatives and Depressants** 1.59 1.84 1.72 0.52 0.52 0.52 0.23 0.21 0.22
    Stimulants*** 0.34 0.13 0.23 0.06 0.06 0.06 0.04 0.00 0.02
    Ecstasy (MDMA) 1.39 0.48 0.91 0.41 0.17 0.28 0.17 0.06 0.11

    Notes:
    * Includes all of the benzodiazepine type tranquilizers.
    ** Non-prescribed/non-therapeutic use only.
    *** Includes methylphenidate and methamphetamines.

    Source: 

    "Colombia: Evaluation of Progress in Drug Control 2007-2009." Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM). Washington, DC: January 2011. OAS/Ser.L/XIV.2.48, CICAD/docx.1843/10, p. 12.
    http://www.cicad.oas.org/mem/reports/5/Full_Eval/Colombia%20-%205th%20Rd...


  2. Age of First Drug Use

    Year of the Study: 2008 Population: ages 12 to 65
    Type of Drug Average Mean
    Alcohol 17.09 16
    Tobacco 16.91 16
    Marijuana 17.82 17
    Cocaine HCL 19.92 18
    Coca Paste 19.93 18
    Ecstasy 18.85 17
    Tranquilizers without prescription 26.62 22
    Source: 

    "Colombia: Evaluation of Progress in Drug Control 2007-2009." Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM). Washington, DC: January 2011. OAS/Ser.L/XIV.2.48, CICAD/docx.1843/10, p. 13.
    http://www.cicad.oas.org/mem/reports/5/Full_Eval/Colombia%20-%205th%20Rd...


  3. (Environmental Impact of Illicit Drug Production and Eradication) "Plant-based drugs are often grown in ecologically valuable forest areas, with immediate and devastating consequences for the environment: deforestation, degradation of the soil, and pollution. Many traditional economic activities—such as agriculture, mining, and cattle ranching—have a negative impact on natural ecosystems, in part because they tend to replace native forests with croplands. The data provided below are, consequently, valid for both licit and illicit activities. While it is not possible to determine the relative importance of each, it is likely that because of their limited scope the harm done by illicit crops is probably less than that wrought by legal activities. However, it is also possible to assert that the environmental impact is likely accelerated with illicit crops. Because they are usually grown in isolated areas far from urban centers, where there are often no roads and the state has difficulty maintaining a presence, these crops tend to expand the agricultural frontier. Moreover, the pace and methods used to produce illicit crops, which do not include measures to promote sustainability of the land, exacerbate the environmental impact.
    "Beyond the effects that can be attributed directly to drug production, the process of drug control itself can complicate the problem. Some studies have maintained that aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate causes a negative impact on the environment and human health, which has been a particular cause for concern in regions of Colombia where this method is used to control illicit crops."

    Source: 

    Organization of American States, General Secretariat, "The Drug Problem in the Americas," 2013, p. 33.
    http://www.oas.org/documents/eng/press/Introduction_and_Analytical_Repor...


  4. (US State Dept. Estimates of Colombian Drug Production) "Colombia is a major source country for cocaine, heroin and marijuana. However, the Government of Colombia continues to make significant progress in its fight against the production and trafficking of illicit drugs. Due to sustained aerial and manual eradication operations and aggressive enforcement activity, potential pure cocaine production declined eight percent, from 190 metric tons (MT) in 2011 to 175 MT in 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available. Although figures are not yet available for 2013, the United States estimated that the area devoted to coca cultivation in 2012 was down an additional six percent compared to 2011, from 83,000 hectares (ha) to 78,000 ha. This represents a 53 percent decline in coca cultivation since 2007.
    "According to the U.S. Department of Justice's 2012 Cocaine Signature Program, 95.5 percent of the cocaine in their sampling system seized in the United States originates in Colombia."

    Source: 

    United States Department of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report: Volume I: Drug and Chemical Control (Washington, DC: March 2014), p. 131.
    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/222881.pdf


  5. (Colombian Deforestation) "In Colombia, it is estimated that more than one million hectares of native forest have been eliminated as a result of illicit crops, and that for each hectare of coca, four hectares of forest are cut down, almost always by the slash-and-burn method. This deforestation, in turn, causes soil erosion."

    Source: 

    Organization of American States, General Secretariat, "The Drug Problem in the Americas," 2013, p. 8.
    http://www.oas.org/documents/eng/press/Introduction_and_Analytical_Repor...


  6. (Growth of 'Bandas Criminales' (BACRIMs) in Colombia) "Colombia continues to see a rise in criminal organizations known as 'bandas criminales' or BACRIMs, which have become a major law enforcement challenge. These groups include members of former paramilitary groups and are active throughout much of the country -- competing and sometimes cooperating with the FARC in the drug trade. For example, the largest BACRIM organization, 'los Rastrojos,' has traceable cooperative agreements with both the ELN and the FARC in southern Colombia. The violence associated with the BACRIMs has spilled over into many of Colombia‘s major cities, leading to an increase in the murder rates within some urban centers and the mass displacement of thousands of rural citizens in 2011. In 2011, President Juan Manuel Santos announced a comprehensive strategy to combat the increasingly powerful BACRIM. The strategy identified overarching themes to attack the BACRIM and detailed how various government agencies would coordinate efforts, but it did not designate additional resources to confront the problem."

    Source: 

    United States Department of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report: Volume I: Drug and Chemical Control (Washington, DC: March 2012), pp. 170-171.
    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/187109.pdf


  7. (Alternative Development and Association with Eradication and Law Enforcement) "In Colombia, the government has sought to counter coca growth by building a solid regional and local economic base for agriculture, agro-industry, and forestry work. In addition, Colombia is currently developing a land tenure policy for traditional coca-growing areas to help solidify local support for licit alternatives to coca.15 For decades, alternative development has been a cornerstone of the international response to the illicit drug trade. The idea is to encourage drug crop farmers to shift to other profitable crops, such as cacao and coffee. However, the association of alternative development with law enforcement activities, including eradication and aerial spraying, has had a negative impact on the attitudes of the communities directly involved. That is a significant factor, because without the participation of these communities there is no chance of developing effective alternative crop programs."

    Source: 

    Organization of American States, General Secretariat, "The Drug Problem in the Americas," 2013, p. 34.
    http://www.oas.org/documents/eng/press/Introduction_and_Analytical_Repor...


  8. (Treatment Utilization) "In 2010, the government began drafting treatment regulations for drug addicts. However, these regulations are not yet finalized as the MSP continues to review how the Colombian health insurance system will cover drug addiction as a medical condition. Drug treatment services in Colombia are provided primarily by private organizations. According to the national consumption study, there are nearly 300,000 people with drug dependency problems needing treatment, and only 20,000 available spaces in facilities. To service the drug dependent population, the GOC has identified 104 inpatient or residential treatment centers, 88 outpatient centers, 58 drug treatment facilities in general hospitals, 34 toxicology services, and 5 methadone programs available to drug addicts."

    Source: 

    United States Department of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report: Volume I: Drug and Chemical Control (Washington, DC: March 2012), p. 175.
    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/187109.pdf


  9. (Availability of Specialty Treatment Services) "The country [Colombia] has 120 officially licensed specialized drug abuse treatment facilities in 23 of the country’s 32 departments, all of which operate under the responsibility of professional staff with specific training in this area. However, the country does not have a single register with data on the number of cases treated or on cases that were referred to such establishments through the general health care system.
    "Colombia does not have data on the total number of cases treated at unlicensed specialized drug problem treatment facilities.
    "Colombia reports that it does not carry out activities to perform follow-up of patients with problems arising from drug abuse, once the indicated treatment is completed. Additionally, the country reports that 67 institutions offer their clients social reintegration services."

    Source: 

    "Colombia: Evaluation of Progress in Drug Control 2007-2009." Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM). Washington, DC: January 2011. OAS/Ser.L/XIV.2.48, CICAD/docx.1843/10, p. 11.
    http://www.cicad.oas.org/mem/reports/5/Full_Eval/Colombia%20-%205th%20Rd...


  10. Laws and Policies

    (Colombia's National Anti-Drug Strategy) "Colombia reports that the National Development Plan 2007-2010, “A National Community, Development for All,” was adopted by Law 1151 from 2007 and establishes the anti-drug guidelines, which include activities and strategies aimed at guaranteeing control of the territory, and at combating drugs and organized crime. The Plan defines, under the chapter covering defense and democratic security, the main pillars of the anti-drug strategy, which include: control of illicit crops; alternative development; air, sea, river and land interdiction; controlling the traffic of firearms and chemical precursors; management of the extradition policy and strengthening of the mechanisms related to the judicial investigations process; restructuring the National Narcotics Directorate, forfeiture of assets and control of money laundering; consolidation of the prevention in the use of psychoactive substances by decentralization; a shared responsibility policy; and positioning Colombia on multilateral, decision-making forums in the area of illicit drugs."

    Source: 

    "Colombia: Evaluation of Progress in Drug Control 2007-2009." Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM). Washington, DC: January 2011. OAS/Ser.L/XIV.2.48, CICAD/docx.1843/10, p. 5.
    http://www.cicad.oas.org/mem/reports/5/Full_Eval/Colombia%20-%205th%20Rd...


  11. (Personal Use Limits) "In December 2009, the GOC approved a law that prohibited the possession and consumption of small, "personal," amounts of illegal drugs. However, in August 2011, the Colombian Supreme Court overturned this law, finding that Legislative Act No. 2, 2009, which banned the personal use of drugs, "implies the nullification of fundamental rights, and it represses and sanctions with the severest punishments (imprisonment) the personal decision to abandon one‘s personal health, a choice that corresponds to their own decision and does not infringe on the rights of other members of society." The Supreme Court then set the "personal amount" of drugs at 20 grams of marijuana and 1 gram of cocaine."

    Source: 

    United States Department of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report: Volume I: Drug and Chemical Control (Washington, DC: March 2012), p. 174.
    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/187109.pdf


  12. (Substance Abuse Treatment Policy Coordination) "The Ministry of Social Protection is the agency responsible for designing and executing public policy on treatment of drug abuse problems, for monitoring and regulating the supply of treatment, and for human resource training. The departmental health institutes are responsible for monitoring and regulating the supply of treatment, supervising programs, and human resource training.
    "The country does not provide data on public financing allocated for treatment activities.
    "Resolution No. 1315 of 2006 of the Ministry of Social Protection and its technical annexes govern the operation of specialized facilities that provide treatment services for persons with problems associated with drug use and define the official licensing procedure to authorize the operation of specialized facilities that provide these services. The country has an official directory of specialized treatment centers that offer treatment services for persons with drug related problems. This Directory can be consulted on the web page of the Ministry of Social Protection.
    "In addition, the country has a system for monitoring specialized facilities that provide treatment services.
    "The country does not provide information on the number of facilities in the primary health care (PHC) network that carry out specific activities to address problems associated with drug use."

    Source: 

    "Colombia: Evaluation of Progress in Drug Control 2007-2009." Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM). Washington, DC: January 2011. OAS/Ser.L/XIV.2.48, CICAD/docx.1843/10, pp. 10-11.
    http://www.cicad.oas.org/mem/reports/5/Full_Eval/Colombia%20-%205th%20Rd...


  13. Plan Colombia, and the US Drug War in Central/South America

    (Beginning of Plan Colombia) "The US Congress approved in July 2000 an emergency supplemental assistance request for fiscal years 2000-2001 of $1.32 billion, of which $862.3 million was allocated to Colombia and the balance to neighboring countries (primarily Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador) and to US agencies' Andean region antidrug operations. Of the $862.3 million allocated to Colombia, $521.2 million is new assistance to the Colombian armed forces and $123.1 is assistance to the police, with the rest ($218 million) going to alternative economic development, aid to displaced persons, judicial reform, law enforcement, and promotion of human rights.
    "The bulk of the military assistance will support the Colombian armed forces' three counter-narcotics battalions, which are to receive 16 UH-60 Black Hawk and 30 UH-1H Huey transport helicopters."

    Source: 

    Rabasa, Angel & Peter Chalk, "Colombian Labyrinth: The Synergy of Drugs and Insurgency and Its Implications for Regional Instability" (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2001), pp. 62-63.
    http://m.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1339.html
    http://m.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1339/MR1339....


  14. (Link Between Counter-Narcotics and Counter-Insurgency Strategies) "Although US assistance is provided for counter-narcotics purposes only, there is a clear linkage between the Colombian government's counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency strategies. the Colombian government believes that, by striking at the drug trade, it also strikes at the economic center of gravity of the guerrillas. That is, by destroying the coca and poppy fields, drug-production facilities, and transportation networks, the government can also degrade the guerrillas' ability to carry on the war.
    "Whether this is an accurate assessment remains to be seen."

    Source: 

    Rabasa, Angel & Peter Chalk, "Colombian Labyrinth: The Synergy of Drugs and Insurgency and Its Implications for Regional Instability" (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2001), p. 65.
    http://m.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1339.html
    http://m.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1339/MR1339....


  15. (US Counter-Narcotics Efforts in Colombia and the FARC) "The FARC clearly believes that US counter-narcotics assistance is directed against it, that it is, in effect, disguised counter- insurgency assistance, and that if they, the guerrillas, were to gain the upper hand, the United States would intervene on the side of the Bogota government. Therefore, in its public posture, the FARC has stressed the threat that US military assistance to Colombia poses to the peace process, a theme that plays well with some domestic and international audiences. The FARC professes to be opposed in principle to the narcotics trade, while criticizing the methods employed by the Colombian government -- aerial spraying in particular. It has also sought to forestall direct US intervention by drawing parallels between Colombia and Vietnam."

    Source: 

    Rabasa, Angel & Peter Chalk, "Colombian Labyrinth: The Synergy of Drugs and Insurgency and Its Implications for Regional Instability" (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2001), p. 68.
    http://m.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1339.html


  16. (Air Bridge Denial Activity) "Colombia reports that it carried out 18 aerial interdiction operations, seizing 14 aircraft in 2006, 24 operations, seizing 20 aircraft in 2007, 60 operations, seizing 31 aircraft in 2008, and 81 operations, seizing 38 aircraft in 2009."

    Source: 

    "Colombia: Evaluation of Progress in Drug Control 2007-2009." Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM). Washington, DC: January 2011. OAS/Ser.L/XIV.2.48, CICAD/docx.1843/10, p. 34.
    http://www.cicad.oas.org/mem/reports/5/Full_Eval/Colombia%20-%205th%20Rd...


  17. Air Bridge Denial Program Activity 2006-2009
    Year Number of Coordination Activities Conducted Number of Operations Conducted Countries Involved
    2006 57 14 Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Honduras
    2007 89 20 Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Belize
    2008 147 31 Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Belize, Mexico
    2009 154 38 Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Belize, Mexico
    Source: 

    "Colombia: Evaluation of Progress in Drug Control 2007-2009." Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM). Washington, DC: January 2011. OAS/Ser.L/XIV.2.48, CICAD/docx.1843/10, p. 34.
    http://www.cicad.oas.org/mem/reports/5/Full_Eval/Colombia%20-%205th%20Rd...