Why You Shouldn't Do Cocaine in Colombia

Everyone knows that cocaine is cheap and popular among tourists in Colombia. But here's why it's a problem and why you should care.

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Why You Shouldn't Do Cocaine in Colombia

Can you buy cocaine in Colombia? Damn straight you can – but should you?

In the video, we ask locals what they think of travelers who seek out cocaine.

First, some facts: Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993, and the other drug cartels were wrapped-up by police a few years later. 

After plummeting from the highs of the late '90s, cocaine production in Colombia is on the rise again. In 2014, Colombia resumed the title of the world’s largest producer of the drug. The Andean triumvirate of Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia produce almost ALL of the world’s cocaine. 

Since the early 2000s, the rebel group FARC have controlled cocaine production in Colombia. In November 2016, they signed a peace deal with the government, and plan to lay down their arms and walk out of the jungle over the next couple of years.

It’s feared a number of other criminal gangs will step into the cocaine production void, a kind of Balkanisation of production, which could spark a new round of violence. 

Violence is the number one reason you should not buy cocaine in Colombia.

In January 2010, Gustavo Siva Cano, writing for Colombia Reports, estimated the drug war was responsible for 450,000 homicides. 

Then there’s the social impact; between 2.5 and 4 million people left their homes in search of safety.

And also, the environmental impact. Cano wrote:

“For every cultivated hectare (2.5 acres) of coca, around three hectares of forest are destroyed – and last year alone (1999) the UN found 81,000 hectares of coca inside the country. It will take time for Colombians to realize the depth of the environmental impact that drug production has had on their country.”

Cano estimated the cost to the economy at $9billion a year. That’s money that could be better spent on health, education, and infrastructure.

Although cocaine is available in Colombia for a fraction of the price you'd pay in the west, you never know exactly what it contains.

An Australian traveler on a “special tour” told the ABC in December 2015:

"I can't believe I am actually snorting it after seeing it made; cement, gasoline, battery acid, bicarbonate soda, dried paint, potassium and sulphur all went into it."

So, more than 20 years after Pablo Escobar was gunned down on a rooftop, Colombia is still reeling. The environment is permanently damaged, and so are the people. Don’t forget the vast majority of Colombians were against the drug trade, the corruption, and bloodshed. Almost everyone in Colombia has a family member or a friend who was killed in the drug war, or knows someone who has.

Every Colombian is working to pay off the debt, trying to recoup lost opportunity because of how much government money diverted to law enforcement, and away from making their life better.

They haven’t forgiven Pablo Escobar for what he did. Nor have they forgotten the hundreds of thousands of end-users in the US and around the world who created the market for cocaine.

And here you are, in your gringo board shorts and sandals, asking them if you can get some more.

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10 Comments

  • Timothy Bambrough said

    I am amazed at the people who grew up during the 80's when cocaine was the drug. You were not cool if you weren't snorting lines of a toilet tank lid oin some bar bathroom. I think back to the waste. And was it really fun?
    Those who grew up during all of the drugs of the 80's and are still doing the drug today. They have seen or know someone who died way to young from drug use, they know people that cocaine took all their money yet they are still do8ng it today.
    I have a friend like that except he is retired now and spending most of his time in Mexico wherr the drug is still cheap. He has money so my guess is that cocaine will kill my friend or he will get caught. Though I dont think that would stop him.
    All I know from experience is that cocaine is a stupid drug. It will cost you everything you have from friends to homes and cars. But until you want to stop, until you realize how stupid it is you will continue its use.

  • Mike Thomas said

    Doing coke in Colombia is like going to Machu Picchu in Peru. You don't have to do either to have a great time, but you'll forever kick yourself if you don't. What the writer fails to mention is how many other things you can consume in Colombia which screw up the environment and exploit the local workers. Cocaine is just another consumable on a long list of things they try to make you feel guilty about buying, but seriously, if you're in Colombia you should really try the cocaine. It is truly fabulous. Just make sure your connection is legit and you get the good stuff.

  • Babe Cabo said

    Why do the left try to re-brand Colombia It is a 3 rd world country with much bigger problems than cocaine. Another worthless article

  • Rodrigo said

    If you like adventures and saving money as well, I would recommend crossing from Colombia to Panama through the Darien Gap. Since there are no roads, the most common way to do this trip is by flying. However, you can also cross it by boats and through small villages along the coast.

    I actually wrote an article about how to do this trip if anyone is interested! - http://outofyourcomfortzone.net/how-to-get-from-colombia-cartagena-to-panama-the-capital-city-for-less-than-150-dollars/

  • John Carley said

    Since when has this got to do with anything mentioned about the left politics? You right wingers are so indoctrinated in your own bs. It's just simply about taking stock about society there, the drug is damaging no doubt, to the society and to those who crave to abuse their own body in order to need to feel that great super high. Yes sure you can make your own choices if you want to abuse your own body. I'll laugh at the stupidity of those who choose such though, you reap what you sow. I've done lots of drugs and grown past it, the truth is it's a limiting crutch. But don't make this about politics, nothing to do with it, it's just an excuse justification so you guys use so you can be selfish do what you want and don't need to give a sh!t. Always has been.

  • Antonio Castrodelrio said

    Totally agree with the article, for Colombian people, we have suffered this war a lot, and we are paying for finishing it everyday.
    It is not funny for us people who just come to the country to make things or activities that are not legal. Please respect every country you visit and also and more important, respect the law of them. for sure you are not involved in all of this war, and by spending money for this activities you are making those activities stronger.

  • Ian Kerr said

    WELL PUT AND WELL SAID.
    COLUMBIA IS A COUNTRY WITH BEAUTY AND IN THE MAIN , GOOD PEOPLE
    DO NOT HARM THE WELLBEING OF THE COUNTRY OR ITS PROPLE
    DO NOT HARM YOUR HEALTH OR YOUR OWN SAFTEY . KEEP AHEAD OF THE GAME

  • Connor said

    You wouldn't go to Amsterdam and not try the weed would you?

  • Jack said


    Great post. Very informative. I also came across some good deals for Hotel and Flight bookings on http://freetripdeals.com/

  • DaninMCI said

    I really thought this would be some good tips about why a tourist can be put into danger. Or how the coke contains contaminated chemicals etc. Yet the real reason not to do drugs is global warming and because there are criminals in Columbia. Guess what, you are a criminal that is costing society money without traveling all the way to central america if you are a drug user. In attention to the amount of your carbon footprint mythical impact if you are worried about trees.

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