We Spend $20 Billion a Year to Fight Illegal Drugs, Yet Cocaine Is Cheaper than It Was 30 Years Ago

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
If the United States’ war on drugs was succeeding, the prices of narcotics should be going up. After all, a reduction in the supply of drugs—the main objective of the government’s efforts—should result in less availability and thus a higher price on the street.
But this is not the result of now decades of law enforcement campaigns to stop drugs from coming into the U.S.
Take cocaine for example. The retail price of a gram of cocaine today is $177.26, according to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
This price is not higher than it was 30 years ago. In fact, it is 74% lower.
“This number contains pretty much all you need to evaluate the Mexican and American governments’ ‘war’ to eradicate illegal drugs from the streets of the United States,” writes Eduardo Porter in The New York Times. “They would do well to heed its message. What it says is that the struggle on which they have spent billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of lives over the last four decades has failed.”
Over the last decade, the federal government has spent $20 billion to $25 billion a year on counternarcotics programs that the evidence above shows is not succeeding.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Numbers Tell of Failure in Drug War (by Eduardo Porter, New York Times)



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