Any time the “War on Drugs” is mentioned in mainstream media today its failures are consistently pointed out. The world hears about the billions of dollars spent to combat the illegal drug trade between nations, as well as on the streets at home. News papers such as the New York Times did a fairly wonderful job of pointing out the efforts downfalls on July 3, 2012, in an article entitled “Numbers Tell the Failure of the War on Drugs”. They pointed out how few arrests of major kingpins and cartel leaders were; as compared to the lives lost to both the drugs themselves, and the people on the ground does not promote furthering the current strategies. However, they lightly touched on one crucial fact that goes against the rest of the article. The street prices of illegal drugs has fallen substantially yet the purity of heroine, cocaine, and marijuana have risen drastically.
It makes little sense in any line of business to lower your price but increase the level of potency in your product; especially when you are making a ton of money. The New York Times also stated that the use of many of the narcotics has fallen among high school students (the abuse of prescription drugs has risen, however, twenty years ago this statistic was not even tracked).
What the Times failed to realize is that the “War on Drugs” is a multi-faceted approach. Studies cited in the Los Angeles Times suggests the reasoning for the price drop, and purity hike is due to education. This study shows that the purity of heroine, cocaine, and marijuana have risen by 80,81, and 86% respectively. The belief seems to be that the health risks, now known to adults and school age children, has caused fewer users; this means in order to make the same profit cartels must get users hooked faster and harder.
Abandoned educational systems like D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness Resistance and Education) seem to have paid off. Funding was cut for this program because little impact had been noticed; the government, however, failed to realize that they needed to wait for the children going through this program to mature before any real results were found. The spread of diseases such as HIV an AIDS is assumed to be the primary contributor to the lowering numbers of illegal drug users; it has become apparent that an educated society is a healthier one. The Los Angeles Times article does agree that there is a noticeable rise in prescription drug abuse by both minors and adults. Possibly due to the false belief that this is a “healthier high”.
In neither of these articles were newer drugs such as bath salts or amphetamines taken into consideration; they simply have not been around long enough to have an accurate statistical base line. Even without the newer drugs admitted, the numbers suggest if we continue to educate both adults and minors on the health risks of drug use and abuse, the use of these deadly drugs will continue to drop.