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Introduction Approaching and addressing international drug issues in 1999 is not a simple task due to numerous contradictions that involve the inherent nature of economics politics culture and individual ideologies The normal attributes of drugs as well as the changing characteristics of these mind-altering substances makes them the center of complex studies that end up producing contradictory and inconclusive reports Furthermore confusion results from the study of available literature due to moral prejudices and sensationalism by journalists There is a scarcity of serious objective research as well as a lack of reliable data Moreover discourses corresponding to specific economic and political interests have masked the true nature and dynamic of the drug issue by casting it in mythical terms Consequently a battle has emerged between United States political and economic factions shaping popular opinions as well as government action In the 1970s this conflict intensified when certain drugs became international commodities on a grand scale Drug trafficking was born and the subsequent drug trade movement created economic political and social repercussions among the countries of the Western Hemisphere By examining the institution of drug trafficking in regard to bilateral relations between the United States and Mexico one can clearly trace these same repercussions and the difficulty in creating successful policy to combat them Economic Background of Drugs and the Drug Trade Since the beginning of human existence societies have attempted to regulate mind-altering substances prohibit them or establish some sort of moral control over their use possession and distribution Man has always used them for diverse purposes including magic religion aphrodisiacs medicine and war Del Olmo 1 These mind-altering substances carried no monetary value until nation states began creating laws and penalties against the consumption and possession of drugs With these prohibitive laws firmly in place drugs lost their exclusive use value and acquired exchange value as commodities subject to the laws of supply and demand Del Olmo 2 Thus individuals who
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