Wrong on the Drug Trade

Thursday, May 3, 2007

In his April 25 op-ed "An Opium Market Mystery," Antonio Maria Costa stated that opium is a commodity that should be subject to normal rules of supply and demand.

What is normal about a market where the demand is fueled by the consumer's crushing addiction, not value? What is normal when retail competitors engage in wars over turf, not price, and surplus supply can be buffered by product quality? Human physiology practically guarantees that baseline demand is quickly shifted upward by higher purity, yet decreasing purity lowers demand sluggishly.

Either Mr. Costa holds a radical view of socioeconomic theory or he lacks common sense. This would be merely controversial if he held a position advocating for policy. But because he is the executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, his words are shocking.



© 2007 The Washington Post Company