A new Canadian study of the world wide drug trade was recently published in the medical journal BMJ Open, giving the public their first “global snapshot” 40 years after the misguided “War on Drugs” was first cultivated. The results were not surprising. America’s sad and expensive experiment has been an utter failure. Their findings should cause concern for anyone still thinking prohibition is the cure for drug addiction; purity of heroin and cocaine up 60%. Marijuana potency up 161%. And its not just that party drugs are cleaner than they were 40 years ago, they’re also considerably cheaper. Cocaine cost has fallen about 80% from its early 90′s high, heroin is also down about 81%, with weeds value dropping by 86%.
After wasting hundreds of billions of tax payer dollars on a perpetually flawed policy – there’s never been a better time to get high!
“By every metric, the war on drugs — which is estimated to have cost North Americans over the last 40 years over a trillion dollars — has really been hugely ineffective,” says Wood, who is also the founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. “Drugs are more freely and easily available in our society than they’ve ever been.”
While the new Canadian drug war study merrily establishes what most have known all along, imprisoning drug addicts is beyond pointless. The real “elephant in the room” question is more about demand, and how to mitigate its unwanted social fall-out. Advancing treatment for drug addiction as a medical condition — rather than as a moral shortcoming.
Illegal drug use continues to be a major threat to community health and safety. We used international drug surveillance databases to assess the relationship between multiple long-term estimates of illegal drug price and purity.
We systematically searched for longitudinal measures of illegal drug supply indicators to assess the long-term impact of enforcement-based supply reduction interventions.
Data from identified illegal drug surveillance systems were analyzed using an a priori defined protocol in which we sought to present annual estimates beginning in 1990. Data were then subjected to trend analyses.
Main outcome measures
Data were obtained from government surveillance systems assessing price, purity and/or seizure quantities of illegal drugs; systems with at least 10 years of longitudinal data assessing price, purity/potency or seizures were included.
We identified seven regional/international metasurveillance systems with longitudinal measures of price or purity/potency that met eligibility criteria. In the USA, the average inflation-adjusted and purity-adjusted prices of heroin, cocaine and cannabis decreased by 81%, 80% and 86%, respectively, between 1990 and 2007, whereas average purity increased by 60%, 11% and 161%, respectively. Similar trends were observed in Europe, where during the same period the average inflation-adjusted price of opiates and cocaine decreased by 74% and 51%, respectively. In Australia, the average inflation-adjusted price of cocaine decreased 14%, while the inflation-adjusted price of heroin and cannabis both decreased 49% between 2000 and 2010. During this time, seizures of these drugs in major production regions and major domestic markets generally increased.
With few exceptions and despite increasing investments in enforcement-based supply reduction efforts aimed at disrupting global drug supply, illegal drug prices have generally decreased while drug purity has generally increased since 1990. These findings suggest that expanding efforts at controlling the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing.