Cocaine is a very expensive drug in Australia because of its distance from other places. All contraband needs to be shipped in or flown, usually from South America, which is not close at all. However, a business analysis of this suggests that it need not be this way. Cocaine is derived from the coca plant, so why is it that traffickers don’t grow it in Australia?
- A gram of cocaine in Australia costs about $300 AUD which is approximately $214 USD.
- Cocaine is taken from 4 different versions of the South American shrub Erythroxylaceae.
- Their ancestors used to chew on coca leaves before the Europeans settled there.
- Friedrich Gaedcke was able to isolate its active alkaloid called the benzoylmethylecgonine, which eventually increased cocaine’s popularity as a powerful anesthetic in Europe.
Sigmund Freud once said that cocaine can be used as a therapeutic tonic for curing depression and even sexual impotence.
The growing recognition birthed an industry of cocaine and many colonial powers sought for regions where coca can be farmed. Coca plants were later made available in Europe, Southeast Asia, India as well as in Australia.
In 1920, Java became the leader of cocaine manufacturers in all the world. The then-Dutch colony exported tons of the plant in Netherlands. However, in 1925, the Geneva Convention banned the substance because it causes addiction. Dr. John C. D’Auria of the Texas Tech University did multiple studies on the coca plant and revealed just how important cultivation is when it comes to cocaine. While marijuana and another illicit plant can grow everywhere, it is not the same for coca.
Dr. D’Aura noted that while the Cannabis sativa is herbaceous, the Erythroxylum coca is a woody plant which explains why cultivation is different. In the humid Amazon, coca can grow up to 4,950 feet due to high moisture and the low atmospheric pressure.
While it is not impossible to grow coca elsewhere, the process is extremely challenging.
As per cost effectivity, smaller barons choose to grow weed.
Dr. D’Auria further explains that one, two or ten coca plants may not be adequate to purify cocaine from the coca leaves and yield a high profit. It is also regarded as a tedious process to extract cocaine from the plants which Dr. D’Auria notes require chemistry knowledge and skill, not all people are willing to do.
The Australian drug barons, therefore, decided to import coke instead of producing the drug locally. However, in Australia, a cocaine shrub known as the Erythroxylum australe can be found in Queensland and in New South Wales although it is technically illegal to grow it in NSW.
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