Demand continues, street drugs cost a fraction of what they did in the 1980s
If there is one number that embodies the seemingly intractable challenge imposed by the illegal drug trade on the relationship between the United States and Mexico, it is $177.26. That is the retail price, according to Drug Enforcement Administration data, of one gram of pure cocaine from your typical local pusher. That is 74 percent cheaper than it was 30 years ago.
Prices match supply with demand. If the supply of an illicit drug were to fall, say because the Drug Enforcement Administration stopped it from reaching the nation’s shores, we should expect its price to go up.
That is not what happened with cocaine. Despite billions spent on measures from spraying coca fields high in the Andes to jailing local dealers in Miami or Washington, a gram of cocaine cost about 16 percent less last year than it did in 2001. The drop is similar for heroin and methamphetamine. The only drug that has not experienced a significant fall in price is marijuana.
According to Eduardo Porter in the New York Times, the war on drugs cannot be won.
The only dimension along which the war on drugs might be conceived as a success is political. If you ask Americans how concerned they are about drugs, they will give you roughly the same answer they have given for years: not so much.
In a Gallup poll, only 31 percent of Americans said they thought the government was making much progress dealing with illegal drugs, the lowest share since 1997. But fewer people say they worry about drug abuse than 10 years ago. Only 29 percent of Americans think it is an extremely or very serious problem where they live, the lowest share in the last decade.
To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/04/business/in-rethinking-the-war-on-drugs-start-with-the-numbers.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all