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Researchers Warn: War on Drugs is Failing

Update Date: Oct 01, 2013 01:55 PM EDT

The war against illegal narcotics is failing according to a new report out of the International Center for Science in Drug Policy. The authors of the paper stated that illegal drugs are cheaper and purer today than they were within the past two decades. Based from the findings of this report, researchers believe that more needs to be done to control the global drug problem.

For this report, the researchers gathered information from seven international drug-surveillance systems that were all funded by the government. From these systems, the researchers had at least 10 years of information to work with. The information included the price and purity of many illegal drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin. The researchers discovered that from 1990 to 2010, the prices of these drugs sold on the streets have decreased. Despite the drop in prices, the team also found that the quality of the drugs in terms of their purity and potency has actually increased.

In the United States, the costs of illegal drugs fell by at least 80 percent while the drugs' average purity rose by 60 percent for heroin, 11 percent for cocaine and 161 percent for cannabis. The authors of the report found similar trends in Europe as well. In Australia, the price of illegal narcotics fell by 12 to 49 percent.

The authors also found that since 1990, there has been an increase in the amount of drug seizures throughout the world. From 1990 to 2010, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) increased their drug seizure rate for cannabis by 465 percent. For heroin and cocaine, the rates increased by 29 percent and 49 percent respectively. Even though drug enforcement authorities are confiscating more cocaine, heroin and cannabis in the majority of the world, the drug sales are still strong.

"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 issue rather than a criminal justice issue," Co-author Dr. Evan Wood, scientific chairman of the center, said reported by BBC News. "With the recognition that efforts to reduce drug supply are unlikely to be successful, there is a clear need to scale up addiction treatment and other strategies that can effectively reduce drug-related harm."

The report was published in the British Medical Journal Open.

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