Video: Why You Shouldn't Do Cocaine Visiting Colombia

Travel to Colombia with Stephanie Hunt as she learns about one of Colombia’s most notorious exports, and the mass damage it’s caused to society.


Photo © World Nomads

Stephanie Hunt asks 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.

Speaker 1 (00:08):

Every time a traveler does a line of cocaine. You're actually literally killing people. There's a lot of violence in the process.

Speaker 2 (00:18):

The reality of taking drugs is meaning people are killed. That women are raped. That children lose their parents.

Speaker 3 (00:25):

Every single family in Colombia has been affected by the cocaine trade.

Stephanie Hunt (00:30):

Columbia has emerged as one of the must see destinations, but it's hard to escape, the fact that some travelers who come here are on the hunt for one of the country's most notorious exports, cocaine, for those who have a taste for the drug back home, the relatively low cost in Colombia compared to skyrocketing prices in the West is an increasingly attractive reason to travel here. Also with TV series like Narcos on Netflix is a popular fascination with a life is drug Baron, Pablo Escobar, and more people are traveling to Columbia to see where the billionaire Kingpin enacted his criminal reign. If this sounds like you, it's important to take the time to know what's your really buying into. In the 1970s, cocaine exploded in popularity and for a number of decades, Columbia was by far the world's largest cocaine supplier with such high demand, for the product around the world. This led to a massive criminal enterprise, no one exemplified this criminality better than drug Barron, Pablo Escobar. At the height of his power Escobar's cartel was bringing in $420 million per week. And would you believe $1,000 a day just on rubber bands to tie up the money, but as his power grew, so did the bloodshed, it's difficult to determine, but estimates suggest that Escobar's people executed well over 4,000 Colombians, the effects of Escobar's cartel and the other cartels, which followed, are still felt in Columbia today. And it's fair to say the Colombians are still feeling pretty raw about it all.

Speaker 4 (02:14):

It's definitely increases our crime rate, you know, for locals and for foreigners, you know, putting yourself in danger of going to buy the product.

Speaker 5 (02:22):

They assume that when they're doing cocaine or they're just having fun and they're just having a party, but in reality, it's caused so much death and destruction that it would totally offend somebody here. If you walked up and asked them for cocaine.

Stephanie Hunt (02:37):

So given cocaine trafficking has caused so much damage to Colombian society. You can understand why locals have such a poor view of travelers who've come here with a hunger for the drug.

Speaker 6 (02:49):

Colombians do get upset when somebody asks them about drugs and cocaine. And we have suffered a lot for a long time because of the drug trade. And for us, it's just not funny.

Speaker 7 (03:02):

I know that it has done a lot of harm to the community and that the Colombians don't really like to speak about it. That's what we find out found out.

Speaker 3 (03:09):

You really are interfering and helping fund a conflict that has run for more than 50 years.

Stephanie Hunt (03:17):

Now to get things clear, it is legal, to possess up to one gram of cocaine in Columbia for personal use, however it's illegal to sell it. So if you are purchasing cocaine in Colombia, you are committing a criminal act. The simple reality is if you come to Columbia and ask around for drugs, you're immediately putting up the signals that you're someone with money and someone who wasn't getting involved with criminal elements. This means by involving yourself with criminals, you are opening yourself up to be robbed or worse. And finally, by purchasing cocaine, you're buying a product that continues to have devastating effects on Columbia, as well as the rest of the world. So in effect and it might be hard to hear, but if your purchasing cocaine, you're the problem. So if you're headed to this beautiful country, you'd be well served to have a think about the ethics and consequences of consuming. What can truly be called a conflict drug.


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  • 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! -


  • 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



  • Connor said

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


  • 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.


  • sean mckee said

    Total BS. If you REALLY care about the Colombian families affected by coke related crimes, then get cocaine legallized. And it's selfish to know that your efforts will only make a 10 percent difference, when you can make a much larger difference pushing to make it legal.


  • nomo liberals said

    The reason not to do cocaine is blood. You're indirectly responsible for some innocent person whose been killed by mistake in the narco trade. Moreso for those who do blow in the U.S. You have the blood of many innocent people of Mexico on you if you use coke.


  • Joe said

    If the writer would replace the word “cocaine” with “cigarettes” or “alcohol” the article would make more sense. But just imagine the headline, WHY YOU SHOULD’NT BUY BEER IN MUNICH. After all, alcoholism is responsible for violence and death worldwide. FARC or the ELM’s main purpose has nothing to with drugs. They’re fighting for the poor and marginalized groups in Colombia (please do better research). Moreover, just what exactly do you want poor Colombian farmers to do, Starve? Since the peace with FARC was signed the Duque regime has failed to live up to promises made to both groups. Finally, everyone who uses cocaine in NOT an addict. What someone wants to grow or put in their body is none of your business. Legalize it and STFU


  • Pepito Perez said

    No Joe. Simply no Don Joe. Ud es MUY bestia e ignorante. First off, don't get defensive, you deserve to get attacked, just take it and accept responsibility. No, don't go into your drug echo chamber to make yourself feel better. Stop thinking about yourself Joe. Learn from this. Grow. If you ever needed a sign to indicate on what you're doing is wrong, here it is. It's ok you can learn if you change the way you feel. You'll probably see this and dig your heels more into it like a little kid. But you need to hear these words.

    Speaking as a victim who had an uncle kidknapped I can confidently and fully pass judgement on you. Simply you're too ignorant and far removed from this to understand, yet don't want to understand when a victim is talking to you because now it becomes too real that your actions have consequences and your self preservation kicks in instead of actual remorse. Grow Joe. Grow.

    FARC and ELN fight for the people was but a mere pitch to really get into the drug trade. They don't want freedom to the people. They want to control drug trade. They don't want to legalize it because it means they get less money. They don't want to be a legitimate political party because they wont make as much money either. That's just it.

    They got a fish on the line (you Joe) and they don't want to cut the line. Why would they? They got all this money flowing in and wont stop. Have fun trying to wash off the blood from your hands Joe.


  • robert demers said

    cocaine is evil,yeah lots of upscale people take it recreationaly but millions become useless parasites on the population living only for the drug ,robbing,thieving,lying selling themselves,anything for more coke and crack they serve no purpose they contribute nothing to society but scream when their free monthly handout of cash is a day late,and columbian druglords laugh and count their cash.AND so does the columbian government the partners of crime,like every govenment in the world ,handouts ,payouts,and bribes it does not stop


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