In countries around the world, law enforcement is losing the war on drugs, researchers say. Their evidence: Across two decades of data, purity of illegal substances is up and cost is down, the BBC reports. "These findings suggest that expanding efforts at controlling the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing," says the report by the Vancouver-based International Center for Science in Drug Policy. Researchers reviewed the drug supply in the US, Europe, and Australia, as well as production in Latin America, Afghanistan, southeast Asia, and elsewhere, CNN reports.
Among their findings: Between 1990 and 2007, heroin, cocaine, and cannabis prices dropped at least 80% in the US—even as the three drugs saw purity increase 60%, 11%, and 161%, respectively. Meanwhile, drug seizures have been on the rise since 1990 across most of the world. It's time, says the center's scientific chair, to "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." Calling the war on drugs a "miserable failure," an official with the Transform Drug Policy Foundation adds, "We desperately need to shift the regime from a prohibitionist one to one of legal regulation."