Is the war on drugs allowed?

Experts declare global war on drugs a failure

For their study, the researchers from Canada and the USA examined data from seven state programs that followed developments on the international drug market for more than ten years. Three of the programs monitored international drug trafficking, three focused on the US market and one on the situation in Australia.

According to the study, between 1990 and 2007 the retail price of heroin, cocaine and cannabis in the USA fell by 81, 80 and 86 percent, respectively, taking inflation into account. At the same time, the average drug purity rose by 60, eleven and 161 percent, respectively. In 18 European countries between 2000 and 2009 the price of cocaine fell by 51 percent and heroin by 74 percent, in Australia by 14 and 49 percent respectively.

Synthetic drugs as a new problem

During the same period, according to the researchers led by Evan Wood from the BC Center for Excellence in HIV / AIDS in Vancouver, Canada, the quantities seized in the important markets rose: In the USA, the seizure of cannabis increased by a full 465 percent between 2000 and 2010 that of heroin rose 49 percent. For cocaine, however, there was a decrease of around half.

Another problem are the synthetic drugs, which are spreading faster and faster in Europe, but also in the USA and some Asian countries. The EU Commission recently proposed that certain substances that can be used to produce these drugs should be banned more quickly. More than one new one of these drugs was registered each week this year.

Big business

In general, according to the study, the supply of drugs worldwide is unlikely to have decreased in the past two decades, and the availability of cannabis and opiates such as heroin has even increased. According to estimates by the UN Office for the Fight against Drugs and Crime, at least 259 billion euros were turned over in the global drug business in 2011.

"These results suggest that efforts to control the global illicit drug market through law enforcement are failing," the study's authors wrote in the online edition of the British Medical Journal. This could give a boost to proponents of a change of direction in drug policy, particularly in the countries of Central and South America. They want to partially decriminalize drugs and put the sale under state supervision in order to break the ground for drug crime.

gmf / SC (afp, SZ)