“These findings add to the growing body of evidence that the war on drugs has failed,” said Dr Evan Wood, scientific chair of the International Center for Science in Drug Policy and one of the research team members that produced the study.
“We should look to implement policies that place community health and safety at the forefront of our efforts, and consider drug use a public health rather than a criminal justice issue,” added Wood.
“During the past two decades, the supply of major illegal drugs has increased, as measured through a general decline in the prices and a general increase in the purity of illegal drugs in a variety of settings,” the study states.
In the U.S., the average price of heroin, cocaine and cannabis decreased by roughly 80% between 1990 and 2007, according to the report. Average purity increased by 60%, 11% and 161% respectively.
Meanwhile, seizures of cannabis by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration increased by 465% between 1990 and 2010 and heroin seizures increased by 29%. Cocaine seizures fell by 49%.
The increased seizures of these drugs has also meant a massive increase in arrests and incarceration, some for very minor charges, as groups such as Drug Policy Alliance have pointed out.
According to Drug Policy Alliance, 1.53 million people were arrested in 2011 alone on nonviolent drug charges. The number of Americans incarcerated in 2011 in federal, state and local prisons and jails was 2,266,800 or 1 in every 99.1 adults, the highest incarceration rate in the world.
The U.S. has spent more than $51,000,000,000 per year on the War on Drugs.
“The punitive prohibitionist approach to global drug control has proven remarkably costly, ineffective and counterproductive,” said Ethan Nadelmann, director of Drug Policy Alliance.
“It has generated extraordinary levels of violence, crime and corruption while failing to reduce the availability and use of psychoactive drugs.”
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