A recent Ethical Musings post suggested ending the war on drugs. The Economist recently published this chart about cocaine usage and prices using data from a United Nations 2011 report:
The UN's world drug report: The cost of coke | The Economist, June 23, 2011
The data is surprising. In spite of the war on drugs and embarrassingly high rates of incarceration, the United States ranks third when compared to European nations on the percentage of the population who use cocaine. Only Spain and Britain rank higher.
Similarly, the United States ranks third, in comparison to the European nations, for the cost of a gram of cocaine. It appears that the war on drugs drives up the cost of illegal drugs without effectively reducing consumption.
The United States could more advantageously spend money now spent on prosecuting the war on drugs and incarcerating convicted felons addressing the issues that lead people to choose to use illegal drugs: hopelessness, dislocation, lack of community, etc.