The war on drugs is failing, suggests the latest data from seven international government-funded drug surveillance systems. Research indicates that over the past 20 years, not only have street prices fallen but the purity and potency of illegal drugs has actually increased.
A new study funded by the International Center for Science in Drug Policy has confirmed that government-led crackdowns on illegal drugs fail to repress supply, despite a considerable increase in law enforcement resources to combat the problem.
Researchers collected data from seven international drug surveillance databases and systematically examined prolonged portions of illegal drug supply indicators to assess the long-term impact of enforcement-based supply reduction interventions. Each database consisted of a minimum of ten years of information on the price and purity of cannabis, cocaine and opiates, including heroin.
The report discovered that the purity and potency of illegal drugs either remained stable or heightened between 1990 and 2010. Meanwhile, the street price of each drug typically dropped over the same time period. The study implies that throughout the past two decades, the supply of major illegal drugs has risen, as estimated by a general decline in the price and an increase in the purity of illegal drugs in an array of settings.
In the United States, the price fell considerably, with the average inflation-adjusted prices of heroin, cocaine, and cannabis decreasing by roughly 81 percent, 80 percent, and 86 percent, respectively.
According to the data, despite large investments in law enforcement-based supply reduction efforts aimed at disrupting global drug supply, illegal drug prices have generally decreased while drug purity has increased since 1990.
It appears as if the government may need to explore more creative tactics in ending drug violence and addiction rates. Most people don’t need the threat of legal consequence in order to deter them from using drugs.
Matthew Cooke, writer and director of the documentary film How to Make Money Selling Drugs, explores the idea that “drug war supporters think Americans might tear apart the fabric of society if we were legally allowed to consume whatever plants or chemicals we chose.”
He continues: “This is not based in fact. We don’t need to outlaw STDs for the public to see the benefit in avoiding them. We just need sex education. So why do we have laws against drug use? The only answer is fear — and a deeply ensconced tradition.”
The history of drug laws is unbelievable, considering 100 years ago all drugs were legal. However, in 1931, Harry J. Anslinger became the Director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and shortly after testified before a Senate Hearing on the dangers of marijuana, stating: “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”
“Science-based” statements like these became the foundation for our present “War on Drugs.” Today, U.S. jails house more drug-related prisoners than any other nation while simultaneously leading the world in demand for illegal drugs. As long as there is a robust demand for illegal drugs, a violent and unregulated black market will prevail. It may be time for the government to face the facts and implement more innovative measures in battling the so-called “War on Drugs.”