The Common Good
September/October 2009

War on Drugs

by Rose Marie Berger, Jeannie Choi | September/October 2009

THE PRICE OF cocaine in the U.S.

THE PRICE OF cocaine in the U.S. has steadily decreased from 2004 through 2007 while purity has remained high, according to a study released in April by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). While the price of cocaine per pure gram has fluctuated in the past two decades, researchers are noting a severe and distinct decrease from $613 per gram in 1981 to $122 per gram in 2007, re-emphasizing “the importance of focusing greater attention on demand reduction and harm reduction, while deliberately lowering expectations for what supply-control strategies can achieve,” WOLA senior associate John Walsh said in a statement.

22%
The percentage by which the price of cocaine had decreased in 2007 from 1999. Cocaine’s average retail purity, however, has remained relatively steady since 1988.

500,000
The estimated number of people in U.S. prisons for drug offenses today—more than 10 times as many as in 1980.

13%
The percentage increase of potential worldwide cocaine production from 2000 to 2007.

76%
The percentage of voters in 2008 that considered the “war on drugs” to be “failing,” according to a Zogby/Inter-American Dialogue national survey.

Source: “Lowering Expectations” (Washing-ton Office on Latin America, April 2009).

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