From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|methyl (1R,2R,3S,5S)-3- (benzoyloxy)-8-methyl-8-azabicyclo[3.2.1] octane-2-carboxylate|
|ATC code||N01BC01 R02AD03, S01HA01, S02DA02|
|Mol. mass||303.353 g/mol|
|SMILES||eMolecules & PubChem|
|Melt. point||195 °C (383 °F)|
||1800 mg/mL (20 °C)|
Nasal Spray: 25–43%
|Half life||1 hour|
|Excretion||Renal (benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester)|
|Routes||Topical, Oral, Insufflation,
|Y(what is this?) (verify)|
Cocaine (benzoylmethylecgonine) is a
Its possession, cultivation, and distribution are illegal for non-medicinal and non-government sanctioned purposes in virtually all parts of the world. Although its free commercialization is illegal and has been severely penalized in virtually all countries, its use worldwide remains widespread in many social, cultural, and personal settings.
For over a thousand years South American
When the Spaniards conquered South America, they at first ignored aboriginal claims that the leaf gave them strength and energy, and declared the practice of chewing it the work of the Devil. But after discovering that these claims were true, they legalized and taxed the leaf, taking 10% off the value of each crop. In 1569, Nicolás Monardes described the practice of the natives of chewing a mixture of tobacco and coca leaves to induce “great contentment”:
[…when they wished to] make themselves drunk and […] out of judgment [they chewed a mixture of tobacco and coca leaves which …] make them go as they were out of their wittes […]
Coca protects the body from many ailments, and our doctors use it in powdered form to reduce the swelling of wounds, to strengthen broken bones, to expel cold from the body or prevent it from entering, and to cure rotten wounds or sores that are full of maggots. And if it does so much for outward ailments, will not its singular virtue have even greater effect in the entrails of those who eat it?
Although the stimulant and hunger-suppressant properties of coca had been known for many centuries, the isolation of the cocaine alkaloid was not achieved until 1855. Various European scientists had attempted to isolate cocaine, but none had been successful for two reasons: the knowledge of chemistry required was insufficient at the time, and the cocaine was worsened because coca does not grow in the Eurasian region and ruined easily amidst transcontinental shipping.
The cocaine alkaloid was first isolated by the German chemist Friedrich Gaedcke in 1855. Gaedcke named the alkaloid “erythroxyline”, and published a description in the journal Archiv der Pharmazie.
In 1856, Friedrich Wöhler asked Dr.
Niemann described every step he took to isolate cocaine in his dissertation titled Über eine neue organische Base in den Cocablättern (On a New Organic Base in the Coca Leaves), which was published in 1860—it earned him his Ph.D. and is now in the British Library. He wrote of the alkaloid’s “colourless transparent prisms” and said that, “Its solutions have an alkaline reaction, a bitter taste, promote the flow of saliva and leave a peculiar numbness, followed by a sense of cold when applied to the tongue.” Niemann named the alkaloid “cocaine”—as with other alkaloids its name carried the “-ine” suffix (from Latin -ina).
The first synthesis and elucidation of the structure of the cocaine molecule was by Richard Willstätter in 1898. The synthesis started from tropinone, a related natural product and took five steps.
With the discovery of this new alkaloid, Western medicine was quick to exploit the possible uses of this plant.
In 1879, Vassili von Anrep, of the University of Würzburg, devised an experiment to demonstrate the analgesic properties of the newly-discovered alkaloid. He prepared two separate jars, one containing a cocaine-salt solution, with the other containing merely salt water. He then submerged a frog’s legs into the two jars, one leg in the treatment and one in the control solution, and proceeded to stimulate the legs in several different ways. The leg that had been immersed in the cocaine solution reacted very differently than the leg that had been immersed in salt water.
Today, cocaine has very limited medical use. See the section Cocaine as a local anesthetic
In 1859, an Italian doctor, Paolo Mantegazza, returned from Peru, where he had witnessed first-hand the use of coca by the natives. He proceeded to experiment on himself and upon his return to Milan he wrote a paper in which he described the effects. In this paper he declared coca and cocaine (at the time they were assumed to be the same) as being useful medicinally, in the treatment of “a furred tongue in the morning, flatulence, [and] whitening of the teeth.”
A chemist named
In 1879 cocaine began to be used to treat morphine addiction. Cocaine was introduced into clinical use as a
exhilaration and lasting euphoria, which in no way differs from the normal euphoria of the healthy person…You perceive an increase of self-control and possess more vitality and capacity for work….In other words, you are simply normal, and it is soon hard to believe you are under the influence of any drug….Long intensive physical work is performed without any fatigue…This result is enjoyed without any of the unpleasant after-effects that follow exhilaration brought about by alcohol….Absolutely no craving for the further use of cocaine appears after the first, or even after repeated taking of the drug…
In 1885 the U.S. manufacturer Parke-Davis sold cocaine in various forms, including cigarettes, powder, and even a cocaine mixture that could be injected directly into the user’s veins with the included needle. The company promised that its cocaine products would “supply the place of food, make the coward brave, the silent eloquent and … render the sufferer insensitive to pain.”
In early 20th-century Memphis, Tennessee, cocaine was sold in neighborhood drugstores on Beale Street, costing five or ten cents for a small boxful. Stevedores along the Mississippi River used the drug as a stimulant, and white employers encouraged its use by black laborers.
By the turn of the twentieth century, the addictive properties of cocaine had become clear, and the problem of cocaine abuse began to capture public attention in the United States. The dangers of cocaine abuse became part of a moral panic that was tied to the dominant racial and social anxieties of the day. In 1903, the American Journal of Pharmacy stressed that most cocaine abusers were “bohemians, gamblers, high- and low-class
In many countries, cocaine is a popular
Cocaine use is prevalent across all socioeconomic strata, including age, demographics, economic, social, political, religious, and livelihood.
The estimated U.S. cocaine market exceeded $70 billion in street value for the year 2005, exceeding revenues by corporations such as Starbucks. There is a tremendous demand for cocaine in the U.S. market, particularly among those who are making incomes affording luxury spending, such as single adults and professionals with discretionary income. Cocaine’s status as a club drug shows its immense popularity among the “party crowd”.
In 1995 the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) announced in a press release the publication of the results of the largest global study on cocaine use ever undertaken. However, a decision in the World Health Assembly banned the publication of the study. In the sixth meeting of the B committee the US representative threatened that “If WHO activities relating to drugs failed to reinforce proven drug control approaches, funds for the relevant programs should be curtailed”. This led to the decision to discontinue publication. A part of the study has been recuperated. Available are profiles of cocaine use in 20 countries.
A problem with illegal cocaine use, especially in the higher volumes used to combat fatigue (rather than increase euphoria) by long-term users, is the risk of ill effects or damage caused by the compounds used in adulteration. Cutting or “stamping on” the drug is commonplace, using compounds which simulate ingestion effects, such as
The first synthesis and elucidation of the cocaine molecule was by Richard Willstätter in 1898. Willstätter’s synthesis derived cocaine from tropinone. Since then, Robert Robinson and Edward Leete have made significant contributions to the mechanism of the synthesis.
Biosynthesis of N-methyl-pyrrolinium cation
The biosynthesis begins with L-Glutamine, which is derived to L-ornithine in plants. The major contribution of L-ornithine and L-arginine as a precursor to the tropane ring was confirmed by Edward Leete. Ornithine then undergoes a Pyridoxal phosphate-dependent decarboxylation to form putrescine. In animals, however, the urea cycle derives putrescine from ornithine. L-ornithine is converted to L-arginine, which is then decarboxylated via PLP to form agmatine. Hydrolysis of the imine derives N-carbamoylputrescine followed with hydrolysis of the urea to form putrescine. The separate pathways of converting ornithine to putrescine in plants and animals have converged. A SAM-dependent N-methylation of putrescine gives the N-methylputrescine product, which then undergoes oxidative deamination by the action of diamine oxidase to yield the aminoaldehyde. Schiff base formation confirms the biosynthesis of the N-methyl-Δ1-pyrrolinium cation.
Biosynthesis of cocaine
The additional carbon atoms required for the synthesis of cocaine are derived from acetyl-CoA, by addition of two acetyl-CoA units to the N-methyl-Δ1-pyrrolinium cation . The first addition is a Mannich-like reaction with the enolate anion from acetyl-CoA acting as a nucleophile towards the pyrrolinium cation. The second addition occurs through a Claisen condensation. This produces a racemic mixture of the 2-substituted pyrrolidine, with the retention of the thioester from the Claisen condensation. In formation of tropinone from
Robert Robinson’s acetonedicarboxylate
The biosynthesis of the tropane alkaloid, however, is still uncertain. Hemscheidt proposes that Robinson’s acetonedicarboxylate emerges as a potential intermediate for this reaction . Condensation of N-methylpyrrolinium and acetonedicarboxylate would generate the oxobutyrate. Decarboxylation leads to tropane alkaloid formation.
Reduction of tropinone
The reduction of tropinone is mediated by
Cocaine in its purest form is a white, pearly product. Cocaine appearing in powder form is a salt, typically cocaine hydrochloride (CAS 53-21-4). Street market cocaine is frequently adulterated or “cut” with various powdery fillers to increase its weight; the substances most commonly used in this process are
The color of “crack” cocaine depends upon several factors including the origin of the cocaine used, the method of preparation – with ammonia or
Forms of cocaine
Cocaine, like many alkaloids can form many different salts, such as hydrochloride (HCl) and sulfate (-SO4). Different salts have different solvency in solvents. Its hydrochloride, like many alkaloid hydrochloride is polar and is soluble in water.
Smoking freebase cocaine has the additional effect of releasing methylecgonidine into the user’s system due to the pyrolysis of the substance (a side effect which insufflating or injecting powder cocaine does not create). Some research suggests that smoking freebase cocaine can be even more cardiotoxic than other
Pure cocaine is prepared by neutralizing its compounding salt with an alkaline solution which will precipitate to non-polar basic cocaine. It is further refined through aqueous-solvent Liquid-liquid extraction.
Crack is a lower purity form of free-base cocaine and contains sodium bicarbonate as impurity. Freebase and crack are often administered by smoking. The origin of the name is from the crackling sound (hence the
Coca leaf infusions
Coca herbal infusion (also referred to as Coca tea) is used in coca-leaf producing countries much as any herbal medicinal infusion would elsewhere in the world. The free and legal commercialization of dried coca leaves under the form of filtration bags to be used as “coca tea” has been actively promoted by the governments of Peru and Bolivia for many years as a drink having medicinal powers. Visitors to the city of
It has been promoted as an adjuvant for the treatment of cocaine dependence. In one controversial study, coca leaf infusion was used -in addition to counseling- to treat 23 addicted coca-paste smokers in Lima, Peru. Relapses fell from an average of four times per month before treatment with coca tea to one during the treatment. The duration of abstinence increased from an average of 32 days prior to treatment to 217 days during treatment. These results suggest that the administration of coca leaf infusion plus counseling would be an effective method for preventing relapse during treatment for cocaine addiction. Importantly, these results also suggest strongly that the primary pharmacologically active metabolite in coca leaf infusions is actually cocaine and not the secondary alkaloids.
The cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine can be detected in the urine of people a few hours after drinking one cup of coca leaf infusion.
Routes of administration
Many users rub the powder along the gum line, or onto a cigarette filter which is then smoked, which numbs the gums and teeth – hence the colloquial names of “numbies”, “gummers” or “cocoa puffs” for this type of administration. This is mostly done with the small amounts of cocaine remaining on a surface after insufflation. Another oral method is to wrap up some cocaine in rolling paper and swallow it. This is sometimes called a “snow bomb.”
Coca leaves are typically mixed with an alkaline substance (such as lime) and chewed into a wad that is retained in the mouth between gum and cheek (much in the same as chewing tobacco is chewed) and sucked of its juices. The juices are absorbed slowly by the mucous membrane of the inner cheek and by the gastrointestinal tract when swallowed. Alternatively, coca leaves can be infused in liquid and consumed like tea. Ingesting coca leaves generally is an inefficient means of administering cocaine. Advocates of the consumption of the coca leaf state that coca leaf consumption should not be criminalized as it is not actual cocaine, and consequently it is not properly the illicit drug. Because cocaine is hydrolyzed and rendered inactive in the acidic stomach, it is not readily absorbed when ingested alone. Only when mixed with a highly alkaline substance (such as lime) can it be absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach. The efficiency of absorption of orally administered cocaine is limited by two additional factors. First, the drug is partly catabolized by the liver. Second, capillaries in the mouth and esophagus constrict after contact with the drug, reducing the surface area over which the drug can be absorbed. Nevertheless, cocaine metabolites can be detected in the urine of subjects that have sipped even one cup of coca leaf infusion. Therefore, this is an actual additional form of administration of cocaine, albeit an inefficient one.
Orally administered cocaine takes approximately 30 minutes to enter the bloodstream. Typically, only a third of an oral dose is absorbed, although absorption has been shown to reach 60% in controlled settings. Given the slow rate of absorption, maximum
Contrary to popular belief, both ingestion and insufflation result in approximately the same proportion of the drug being absorbed: 30 to 60%. Compared to ingestion, the faster absorption of insufflated cocaine results in quicker attainment of maximum drug effects. Snorting cocaine produces maximum physiological effects within 40 minutes and maximum psychotropic effects within 20 minutes, however, a more realistic activation period is closer to 5 to 10 minutes, which is similar to ingestion of cocaine. Physiological and psychotropic effects from nasally insufflated cocaine are sustained for approximately 40 – 60 minutes after the peak effects are attained.
In 1986 an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that U.S. health food stores were selling dried coca leaves to be prepared as an infusion as “Health Inca Tea.” While the packaging claimed it had been “decocainized,” no such process had actually taken place. The article stated that drinking two cups of the tea per day gave a mild stimulation, increased heart rate, and
Insufflation (known colloquially as “snorting,” “sniffing,” or “blowing”) is the most common method of ingestion of recreational powdered cocaine in the Western world. The drug coats and is absorbed through the mucous membranes lining the
Prior to insufflation, cocaine powder must be divided into very fine particles. Cocaine of high purity breaks into fine dust very easily, except when it is moist (not well stored) and forms “chunks,” which reduces the efficiency of nasal absorption.
Rolled up banknotes, hollowed-out pens, cut straws, pointed ends of keys, specialized spoons, long
In the United States, as far back as 1992 many of the people sentenced by federal authorities for charges related to powder cocaine were Hispanic; more Hispanics than non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black people received sentences for crimes related to powder cocaine.
Drug injection provides the highest blood levels of drug in the shortest amount of time. Subjective effects not commonly shared with other methods of administration include a ringing in the ears moments after injection (usually when in excess of 120 milligrams) lasting 2 to 5 minutes including tinnitus & audio distortion. This is colloquially referred to as a “bell ringer”. In a study of cocaine users, the average time taken to reach peak subjective effects was 3.1 minutes. The euphoria passes quickly. Aside from the toxic effects of cocaine, there is also danger of circulatory emboli from the insoluble substances that may be used to cut the drug. As with all injected illicit substances, there is a risk of the user contracting blood-borne infections if sterile injecting equipment is not available or used.
An injected mixture of cocaine and heroin, known as “speedball” is a particularly popular and dangerous combination, as the converse effects of the drugs actually complement each other, but may also mask the symptoms of an overdose. It has been responsible for numerous deaths, including celebrities such as John Belushi, Chris Farley, Mitch Hedberg, River Phoenix and Layne Staley.
Experimentally, cocaine injections can be delivered to animals such as
Inhalation or smoking is one of the several means cocaine is administered. Cocaine is smoked by inhaling the vapor by sublimating solid cocaine by heating. In a 2000 Brookhaven National Laboratory medical department study, based on self reports of 32 abusers who participated in the study,”peak high” was found at mean of 1.4min +/- 0.5 minutes. 
Smoking freebase or crack cocaine is most often accomplished using a pipe made from a small glass tube, often taken from “Love roses,” small glass tubes with a paper rose that are promoted as romantic gifts. These are sometimes called “stems”, “horns”, “blasters” and “straight shooters”. A small piece of clean heavy copper or occasionally stainless steel scouring pad – often called a “brillo” (actual Brillo pads contain soap, and are not used), or “chore”, named for Chore Boy brand copper scouring pads, – serves as a reduction base and flow modulator in which the “rock” can be melted and boiled to vapor. Crack smokers also sometimes smoke through a
Crack is smoked by placing it at the end of the pipe; a flame held close to it produces vapor, which is then inhaled by the smoker. The effects, felt almost immediately after smoking, are very intense and do not last long – usually five to fifteen minutes.
When smoked, cocaine is sometimes combined with other drugs, such as cannabis, often rolled into a joint or
The language referring to paraphernalia and practices of smoking cocaine vary, as do the packaging methods in the street level sale.
Cocaine binds directly to the DAT1 transporter, inhibiting reuptake with more efficacy than
The pharmacodynamics of cocaine involve the complex relationships of neurotransmitters (inhibiting
Dopamine-rich brain regions such as the ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens, and prefrontal cortex are frequent targets of cocaine addiction research. Of particular interest is the pathway consisting of dopaminergic neurons originating in the ventral tegmental area that terminate in the nucleus accumbens. This projection may function as a “reward center”, in that it seems to show activation in response to drugs of abuse like cocaine in addition to natural rewards like food or sex. While the precise role of dopamine in the subjective experience of reward is highly controversial among neuroscientists, the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens is widely considered to be at least partially responsible for cocaine’s rewarding effects. This hypothesis is largely based on laboratory data involving rats that are trained to self-administer cocaine. If dopamine antagonists are infused directly into the nucleus accumbens, well-trained rats self-administering cocaine will undergo extinction (i.e. initially increase responding only to stop completely) thereby indicating that cocaine is no longer reinforcing (i.e. rewarding) the drug-seeking behavior.
Cocaine’s effects on serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) show across multiple serotonin receptors, and is shown to inhibit the re-uptake of 5-HT3 specifically as an important contributor to the effects of cocaine. The overabundance of 5-HT3 receptors in cocaine conditioned rats display this trait, however the exact effect of 5-HT3 in this process is unclear. The 5-HT2 receptor (particularly the subtypes 5-HT2AR, 5-HT2BR and 5-HT2CR) show influence in the evocation of hyperactivity displayed in cocaine use.
In addition to the mechanism shown on the above chart, cocaine has been demonstrated to bind as to directly stabilize the DAT transporter on the open outward-facing conformation whereas other stimulants (namely phenethylamines) stabilize the closed conformation. Further, cocaine binds in such a way as to inhibit a hydrogen bond innate to DAT that otherwise still forms when amphetamine and similar molecules are bound. Cocaine’s binding properties are such that it attaches so this hydrogen bond will not form and is blocked from formation due to the tightly locked orientation of the cocaine molecule. Research studies have suggested that the affinity for the transporter is not what is involved in habituation of the substance so much as the conformation and binding properties to where & how on the transporter the molecule binds.
Sigma receptors are effected by cocaine, as cocaine functions as a sigma ligand agonist. Further specific receptors it has been demonstrated to function on are
Cocaine also blocks sodium channels, thereby interfering with the propagation of action potentials; thus, like
Because nicotine increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, many cocaine users find that consumption of tobacco products during cocaine use enhances the euphoria. This, however, may have undesirable consequences, such as uncontrollable chain smoking during cocaine use (even users who do not normally smoke
In addition to irritability, mood disturbances, restlessness, paranoia, and auditory hallucinations, cocaine use can cause several dangerous physical conditions. It can lead to disturbances in heart rhythm and heart attacks, as well as chest pains or even respiratory failure. In addition, strokes, seizures and headaches are common in heavy users.
Cocaine can often cause reduced food intake, many chronic users lose their appetite and can experience severe malnutrition and significant weight loss. Cocaine effects, further, are shown to be potentiated for the user when used in conjunction with new surroundings and stimuli, and otherwise novel environs.
Metabolism and excretion
Cocaine is extensively metabolized, primarily in the liver, with only about 1% excreted unchanged in the urine. The metabolism is dominated by hydrolytic ester cleavage, so the eliminated metabolites consist mostly of benzoylecgonine (BE), the major metabolite, and other significant metabolites in lesser amounts such as ecgonine methyl ester (EME) and ecgonine. Further minor metabolites of cocaine include norcocaine, p-hydroxycocaine, m-hydroxycocaine, p-hydroxybenzoylecgonine (pOHBE), and m-hydroxybenzoylecgonine. These do not include metabolites created beyond the standard metabolism of the drug in the human body, like for example by the process of pyrolysis such as is the case with methylecgonidine.
Depending on liver and kidney function, cocaine metabolites are detectable in urine. Benzoylecgonine can be detected in urine within four hours after cocaine intake and remains detectable in concentrations greater than 150 ng/ml typically for up to eight days after cocaine is used. Detection of accumulation of cocaine metabolites in hair is possible in regular users until the sections of hair grown during use are cut or fall out.
If consumed with alcohol, cocaine combines with alcohol in the liver to form cocaethylene. Studies have suggested cocaethylene is both more euphorigenic, and has a higher
Effects and health issues
Health problems resulting from cocaine use can lead to severe mental, physical and social problems.
Cocaine is a potent central nervous system stimulant. Its effects can last from 20 minutes to several hours, depending upon the dosage of cocaine taken, purity, and method of administration.
The initial signs of stimulation are hyperactivity, restlessness, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate and
With excessive or prolonged use, the drug can cause itching, tachycardia, hallucinations, and paranoid delusions. Overdoses cause tachyarrhythmias and a marked elevation of blood pressure. These can be life-threatening, especially if the user has existing cardiac problems. The
In cases where a patient is unable or unwilling to seek medical attention, cocaine overdoses resulting in mild-moderate tachycardia (i.e.: a resting pulse greater than 120 bpm), may be initially treated with 20 mg of orally administered diazepam or equivalent benzodiazepine (eg: 2 mg lorazepam). Acetaminophen and physical cooling may likewise be used to reduce mild hyperthermia (<39 C). However, a history of high blood pressure or cardiac problems puts the patient at high risk of cardiac arrest or stroke, and requires immediate medical treatment. Similarly, if benzodiazepine sedation fails to reduce heart rate or body temperatures fails to lower, professional intervention is necessary.
Cocaine’s primary acute effect on brain chemistry is to raise the amount of dopamine and serotonin in the nucleus accumbens (the pleasure center in the brain); this effect ceases, due to metabolism of cocaine to inactive compounds and particularly due to the depletion of the transmitter resources (tachyphylaxis). This can be experienced acutely as feelings of depression, as a “crash” after the initial high. Further mechanisms occur in chronic cocaine use. The “crash” is accompanied with muscle spasms throughout the body, also known as the “jitters”, muscle weakness, headaches, dizziness, and suicidal thoughts. Not all users will experience these, but most tend to experience some or all of these symptoms.
Chronic cocaine intake causes brain cells to adapt functionally to strong imbalances of transmitter levels in order to compensate extremes. Thus, receptors disappear from the cell surface or reappear on it, resulting more or less in an “off” or “working mode” respectively, or they change their susceptibility for binding partners (ligands) – mechanisms called
The lack of normal amounts of serotonin and dopamine in the brain is the cause of the dysphoria and depression felt after the initial high. Physical withdrawal is not dangerous, and is in fact restorative. The diagnostic criteria for cocaine withdrawal are characterized by a dysphoric mood, fatigue, unpleasant dreams, insomnia or hypersomnia, erectile dysfunction, increased appetite, psychomotor retardation or agitation, and anxiety.
Physical side effects from chronic smoking of cocaine include hemoptysis, bronchospasm, pruritus, fever, diffuse alveolar infiltrates without effusions, pulmonary and systemic eosinophilia, chest pain, lung trauma, sore throat, asthma, hoarse voice,
Chronic intranasal usage can degrade the cartilage separating the nostrils (the
Cocaine may also greatly increase this risk of developing rare autoimmune or connective tissue diseases such as lupus,
Cocaine dependence (or addiction) is physical and psychological dependency on the regular use of cocaine. It can result in physiological damage, lethargy, psychosis, depression, or a potentially fatal overdose.
Cocaine as a local anesthetic
Cocaine was historically useful as a topical anesthetic in eye and nasal surgery, although it is now predominantly used for nasal and
In 2005, researchers from Kyoto University Hospital proposed the use of cocaine in conjunction with phenylephrine administered in the form of an eye drop as a diagnostic test for Parkinson’s disease.
The production, distribution and sale of cocaine products is restricted (and illegal in most contexts) in most countries as regulated by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. In the United States the manufacture, importation, possession, and distribution of cocaine is additionally regulated by the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.
Some countries, such as Peru and Bolivia permit the cultivation of coca leaf for traditional consumption by the local indigenous population, but nevertheless prohibit the production, sale and consumption of cocaine.
Some parts of Europe and Australia allow processed cocaine for medicinal uses only.
In 2004, according to the United Nations, 589
Because of the extensive processing it undergoes during preparation, cocaine is generally treated as a ‘hard drug’, with severe penalties for possession and trafficking. Demand remains high, and consequently black market cocaine is quite expensive. Unprocessed cocaine, such as
Colombia is the world’s leading producer of cocaine. Due to Colombia’s 1994 legalization of small amounts of cocaine for personal use, while sale of cocaine was still prohibited, the result was the spread of local coca crops, partly justified by the local demand.
Three-quarters of the world’s annual yield of cocaine has been produced in Colombia, both from cocaine base imported from Peru (primarily the Huallaga Valley) and Bolivia, and from locally grown coca. There was a 28% increase from the amount of potentially harvestable coca plants which were grown in Colombia in 1998 . This, combined with crop reductions in Bolivia and Peru, made Colombia the nation with the largest area of coca under cultivation after the mid-1990s. Coca grown for traditional purposes by indigenous communities, a use which is still present and is permitted by Colombian laws, only makes up a small fragment of total coca production, most of which is used for the illegal drug trade.
Attempts to eradicate coca fields through the use of defoliants have devastated part of the farming economy in some coca growing regions of Colombia, and strains appear to have been developed that are more resistant or immune to their use. Whether these strains are natural mutations or the product of human tampering is unclear. These strains have also shown to be more potent than those previously grown, increasing profits for the drug cartels responsible for the exporting of cocaine. Although production fell temporarily, coca crops rebounded as numerous smaller fields in Colombia, rather than the larger plantations.
The cultivation of coca has become an attractive, and in some cases even necessary, economic decision on the part of many growers due to the combination of several factors, including the persistence of worldwide demand, the lack of other employment alternatives, the lower profitability of alternative crops in official crop substitution programs, the eradication-related damages to non-drug farms, and the spread of new strains of the coca plant.
|Net cultivation (km²)||1875||2218||2007.5||1663||1662|
|Potential pure cocaine production (tonnes)||770||925||830||680||645|
Synthetic cocaine would be highly desirable to the illegal drug industry, as it would eliminate the high visibility and low reliability of offshore sources and international smuggling, replacing them with clandestine domestic laboratories, as are common for illicit methamphetamine. However, natural cocaine remains the lowest cost and highest quality supply of cocaine.
Actual full synthesis of cocaine is rarely done. Formation of inactive
Trafficking and distribution
Organized criminal gangs operating on a large scale dominate the cocaine trade. Most cocaine is grown and processed in South America, particularly in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and smuggled into the United States and Europe, the United States being the worlds largest consumer of Cocaine, where it is sold at huge markups; usually in the US at $50–$75 for 1 gram (or a “fitty rock”), and $125–200 for 3.5 grams (1/8th of an ounce, or an “eight ball”).
Cocaine shipments from South America transported through Mexico or Central America are generally moved over land or by air to staging sites in northern Mexico. The cocaine is then broken down into smaller loads for smuggling across the
Cocaine is also carried in small, concealed, kilogram quantities across the border by couriers known as “mules” (or “mulas”), who cross a border either legally, e.g. through a port or airport, or illegally elsewhere. The drugs may be strapped to the waist or legs or hidden in bags, or hidden in the body. If the mule gets through without being caught, the gangs will reap most of the profits. If he or she is caught however, gangs will sever all links and the mule will usually stand trial for trafficking alone.
Cocaine traffickers from Colombia, and recently Mexico, have also established a labyrinth of smuggling routes throughout the Caribbean, the
Bulk cargo ships are also used to smuggle cocaine to staging sites in the western Caribbean–Gulf of Mexico area. These vessels are typically 150–250-foot (50–80 m) coastal freighters that carry an average cocaine load of approximately 2.5 tonnes. Commercial fishing vessels are also used for smuggling operations. In areas with a high volume of recreational traffic, smugglers use the same types of vessels, such as go-fast boats, as those used by the local populations.
Sophisticated drug subs are the latest tool drug runners are using to bring cocaine north from Colombia, it was reported on March 20, 2008. Although the vessels were once viewed as a quirky sideshow in the drug war, they are becoming faster, more seaworthy, and capable of carrying bigger loads of drugs than earlier models, according to those charged with catching them.
Sales to consumers
Cocaine is readily available in all major countries’ metropolitan areas. According to the Summer 1998 Pulse Check, published by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, cocaine use had stabilized across the country, with a few increases reported in San Diego, Bridgeport,
In addition to the amounts previously mentioned, cocaine can be sold in “bill sizes”: for example, $10 might purchase a “dime bag,” a very small amount (0.1–0.15 g) of cocaine. Twenty dollars might purchase .15–.3 g. However, in lower Texas, it’s sold cheaper due to it being easier to receive: a dime for $10 is .4g, a 20 is .8-1.0 gram and a 8-ball (3.5g) is sold for $60 to $80 dollars, depending on the quality and dealer. These amounts and prices are very popular among young people because they are inexpensive and easily concealed on one’s body. Quality and price can vary dramatically depending on supply and demand, and on geographic region.
However, UK prices are astronomical compared to those in the USA, with £40 (typically $80) getting 1 gram of cocaine (compared to $20–$40 in the USA).
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reports that the typical retail price of cocaine varied between 50€ and 75€ per gram in most European countries, although Cyprus, Romania, Sweden and Turkey reported much higher values.
World annual cocaine consumption currently stands at around 600
Cocaine is “cut” with many substances such as:
According to a 2007 United Nations report, Spain is the country with the highest rate of cocaine usage (3.0% of adults in the previous year). Other countries where the usage rate meets or exceeds 1.5% are the United States (2.8%), England and Wales (2.4%), Canada (2.3%), Italy (2.1%), Bolivia (1.9%), Chile (1.8%), and Scotland (1.5%).
In the United States
Cocaine is the second most popular illegal recreational drug in the U.S. (behind marijuana) and the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of cocaine. Cocaine is commonly used in middle to upper class communities. It is also popular amongst college students, to aid in studying and as a party drug. Its users span over different ages, races, and professions. In the 1970s and 80’s, the drug became particularly popular in the disco culture as cocaine usage was very common and popular in many discos such as Studio 54.
The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) reported in 1999 that cocaine was used by 3.7 million Americans, or 1.7% of the household population age 12 and older. Estimates of the current number of those who use cocaine regularly (at least once per month) vary, but 1.5 million is a widely accepted figure within the research community.
Although cocaine use had not significantly changed over the six years prior to 1999, the number of first-time users went up from 574,000 in 1991, to 934,000 in 1998 – an increase of 63%. While these numbers indicated that cocaine is still widely present in the United States, cocaine use was significantly less prevalent than it was during the early 1980s.
Usage among youth
Perceived risk and disapproval of cocaine and crack use both decreased during the 1990s at all three grade levels. The 1999 NHSDA found the highest rate of monthly cocaine use was for those aged 18–25 at 1.7%, an increase from 1.2% in 1997. Rates declined between 1996 and 1998 for ages 26–34, while rates slightly increased for the 12–17 and 35+ age groups. Studies also show people are experimenting with cocaine at younger ages. NHSDA found a steady decline in the mean age of first use from 23.6 years in 1992 to 20.6 years in 1998.
Cocaine is the second most popular illegal recreational drug in Europe (behind marijuana). Since the mid-1990s, overall cocaine usage in Europe has been on the rise, but usage rates and attitudes tend to vary between countries. Countries with the highest usage rates are: The United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Ireland.
Approximately 12 million Europeans (3.6%) have used cocaine at least once, 4 million (1.2%) in the last year, and 2 million in the last month (0.5%).
Usage among young adults
About 3.5 million or 87.5% of those who have used the drug in the last year are young adults (15–34 years old). Usage is particularly prevalent among this demographic: 4% to 7% of males have used cocaine in the last year in Spain, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The ratio of male to female users is approximately 3.8:1, but this statistic varies from 1:1 to 13:1 depending on country.
- Biosynthesis of cocaine
- Black cocaine
- Coca eradication
- Coca Museum
- Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography (book)
- Cocaine paste (“paco”)
- Colombia in Popular Culture
Crack baby Crack epidemic
- Crack lung
- Drug addiction
- Drug injection
- Drugs and prostitution
- The Great Binge
- List of cocaine analogues
- Methylecgonine cinnamate
- Psychoactive drug
- Route 36, cocaine bar in Bolivia
Take a Whiff On Me
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