The global recession of 2008 continued for two decades, resulting in a devastating Global Depression by 2030. This financial collapse was flamed by the crises that resulted from global climate change.
Wreaking havoc around the world, rising sea levels, tsunamis and floods saw an influx of refugees from low lying and coastal locations to already overcrowded inland urban centres. By 2025, the world was groaning with the weight of too many people, many disenfranchised and poor, with dwindling employment opportunities.
These crises and associated social problems put unmatched pressure on the global economy, which had not had the chance to recover from the GFC. Aid to devastated countries was no longer an option for developed countries or global agencies. The little money still available to governments was used to try and deal with domestic issues of unemployment, health care, education, food security and crime.
US power had slowly decreased through each new wave of global financial crisis, with it’s financial institutions crashing throughout 2018 -2020. The global citizens movement had been calling for less greed, less profits and less growth. However as the European Union collapsed and the fragile financial systems of the world imploded, there was no alternative system in place to fill the void and stop the world spiraling into a global depression. Nations closed their borders, raised trade barriers and reduced exports of food and other resources needed for their own survival.
In the context of this environment, social stress and anxiety reached epidemic proportions. The demand for drugs to ease the anxiety of a poor, overcrowded, angry world and an uncertain future, increased. Society was revisiting the era of the industrial revolution where workers would spend every cent they earned on alcohol or drugs. However in this new world, rather than keeping them on the employment treadmill, this new addiction kept them on the treadmill of crime and the constant struggle to find enough money for their next hit. Similar to the industrial revolution, this new world saw a mass population suffering from loneliness, fear and displacement.
Order was disintegrating in most countries around the world, also adding to a rise in crime and violence. Countries with ethnic, religious, or class divisions saw especially sharp spikes in hostility. Technology-enabled drug cartels exploited both the weakness of states and the desperation of individuals. They became incredibly prosperous and powerful, posing the spectre of a world controlled by drug war lords and their armies.
Society was breaking down with great speed, as the haves held tight to what they had, and the have-nots increased in number. This resulted in isolated yet widespread clashes and c vigilante groups. Faced with a possible world societal collapse, China decided to use its small amount of money reserves to lock down drugs and revive America’s “War on Drugs” policy from the 20th century. This policy had been abandoned in 2020 the US decided to concentrate its spending on the immediate requirements of its domestic population.
In 2025, the US and China signed the “No Drugs by 2030” treaty. China had slowly taken over the US role of world leader as it managed to dominate the import and export trade markets through it’s development of alternative energies as the peak oil crisis gripped the world in 2020. Attempting to combat the increasingly powerful black market and the associated rise in crime and social decay, China decided to use the existing US infrastructure, experience and technology to underpin the war, and so agreed to become an ally of the flailing US in a renewed War on Drugs.
The two countries decide to reallocate most of the money they were currently spending on defense and alternate energy research to eradicating drugs entirely. As the only relatively cashed up, powerful world players, the rest of the world’s nations signed on as a result of the promise of trade treaties and monetary loans. As the treaty was ratified by the nation states, China and the US also had to agree that once the drug war was won and the effects of this could be seen in a return to a functioning capitalist global economy, then money would again be invested in fighting climate change. The decision to abandon the fight against climate change was seen by the world as unfortunate, but necessary. The world’s population was in need of immediate help- and that was more important than saving a world population that wasn’t born yet. Additionally, climate-changing emissions had decreased significantly in a world that had little oil and little money.
“No Drugs by 2030” meant there became an instant ban on all drugs. Although there were some allowances for medications and therapeutic needs, all drugs including alcohol were prohibited. China met with Middle Eastern leaders to learn how they had accomplished prohibition of alcohol and drugs in their countries. Unwilling to admit that these bans had never actually worked in countries like Saudi Arabia and Oman, these leaders shared their hardline laws and punishments and these became part of the “Treaty” guidelines. Imprisonment, torture, public floggings and public humiliations were all part of the arsenal in the war on drugs. These were for people caught taking drugs. The punishment for people peddling drugs was simple and unequivocal. Immediate death.
Before the Global Depression, advances in technology had provided some successes with various applications for addiction and desire for psychoactive drugs. However, with little money, China and the US decided not to pursue a technology-based solution to drugs. Instead, they decided to use the one resource that the world had plenty of-people. People that would be happy to work for guaranteed food and housing. Ignoring the lessons learnt from the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the 60s, it was decided to make a global anti-drug army that would not just patrol nation boundaries but would also work within the population to root out illegal drug activity.
In this new fragmented yet authoritarian world, the well-established and powerful drug cartels simply used their substantial resources and technology to continue the flow of drugs into countries. It was easy to avoid the anti-drug army or to simply bribe them with illegal drugs that could make them more money when sold than their weekly payment in food and housing.
The result was a world funded and controlled by drug cartels (who had added the newly illegal alcohol to their product list). A veneer of governmental control was maintained, although there was little public faith in its authority. Fear, however, was the main outcome from this time of strict prohibition.
The remnants of the citizen’s groups of the early 2000’s continued to try and gain mass support around the world through networks of cells as well as the internet. However, with a world that had become so fragmented, these groups found themselves becoming more and more militant and they became the new guerillas fighting against injustice and barbarism.
In an ironic twist, many of these groups, desperate for resources and support, ended in alliances with the drug cartels which allowed them use of their communication and travel routes. Payment for this support was an agreement to smuggle and distribute drugs amongst their citizen’s organizations and other newly formed cells. In the minds of these new “justice leagues”, pushing drugs was a small price to pay to keep their visions of the world alive and growing. They believed that drugs were mostly good and needed by society, and so this new alliance against the authoritarian regimes became the hope for the future….
A future with drugs.
The year 2050 ended with a global population wondering if there was any way that the world would find its way back to some sort of harmony; among people, nations and markets. As we know, the pendulum swings and just as the people of the early industrial revolution or the Dark Ages wondered the same thing, we know that the struggle for equilibrium never ends.