Cocaine is a highly potent stimulant that is considered to be one of the greatest
drug threats to the world because of the violence associated with trafficking and
use, the physical and psychological effects associated with its use, and the costs
to society as a whole.
Wholesale cocaine traffickers purchase cocaine from importers and regional distributors
usually in kilogram or multi-kilogram allotments. This is generally the manner in
which cocaine is shipped from Colombia or other cocaine producing countries to the
United States and other consuming countries. Once the cocaine reaches its "consuming
country," other wholesalers package the powder cocaine into retail quantities (ounces
or grams) or convert the powdered cocaine into crack for retail sales.
There is great risk whether cocaine is ingested by inhalation (snorting), injection,
or smoking. It appears that compulsive cocaine use may develop even more rapidly
if the substance is smoked rather than snorted. Smoking allows extremely high doses
of cocaine to reach the brain very quickly and brings an intense and immediate high.
The injecting drug user is at risk for transmitting or acquiring HIV infection/AIDS
if needles or other injection equipment are shared.