Evidence continues to mount regarding the futility of the U.S.-led war on drugs.
It begs the question: Will those waging it ever concede that it's a hopeless cause?
The Monitor recently reported that marijuana and other illegal drugs continue to flow steadily across the U.S.-Mexican border, despite the border fence, ramped-up manpower and other resources that have been focused here to stop it.
A wholesale pound of pot fetches about $200 in South Texas, but can bring up to $1,000 per pound once it's shipped throughout the country and broken down into smaller retail quantities. Stronger drugs, such as cocaine, reap even higher revenues, and there is no shortage of people willing to enter the market to get rich.
Law enforcement authorities on both sides of the border frequently announce and celebrate the seizure of illegal drugs, sometimes hundreds of pounds at a time, and the capture or death of drug cartel leaders, either at their hands or those of rival gang members. Yet such events apparently produce nary a ripple in the drug trade.
As long as profits are high, there will be no shortage of those ready to fill any void left by a cartel member who is caught or killed.
Proof lies in the statistics: More than 60,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico alone, and thousands more have been arrested, yet the price of drugs has actually fallen in recent years.
A team of U.S. and Canadian researchers, using government data, found that from 1990 to 2007, the average price of marijuana, cocaine and heroin decreased by at least 80 percent, when adjusted for inflation.
Basic economics tells us that lower prices mean the supply has gone up or the demand has gone down.
And it isn't the latter. One former Mexican intelligence official said that the number of marijuana users in the United States has increased from 14.5 million in 2007 to nearly 19 million last year.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration seizures increased by 465 percent for marijuana from 1990 to 2010 and by 29 percent for heroin, according to a recent report by BMJ Open, an online publication of the British Medical Journal. It also found that drugs have gotten stronger during later years.
Many global leaders say it's time to accept defeat and stop the interdiction efforts that have cost us billions in lost dollars and millions of lives lost. Some want decriminalization of drugs.
We're not advocating for that, but a shift in funds toward more treatment would be a humane strategy that might help reduce demand and incarceration rates.
The evidence shows that U.S. officials are losing the current drug war.
It's time for a new approach.