MOTHERBOARD: So your report is essentially more data backing up the idea that seizing drugs doesn’t work, correct?
Evan Wood: You’re right. The price of cannabis has really bottomed out over the last few years and the potency has increased. The same thing seems to be happening to heroin and cocaine, which was seen as the success story the United States was touting in the War on Drugs. When you look at the data though, it’s essentially neutral. There’s been no gains there in the past two decades. The patterns of supply go up and down but they’re not related to anything the government is implementing.
In popular media, seizures are presented as officers with guns and drugs in a brightly lit room, with the implication being that seizing drugs somehow impacts the availability or supply on the street. But there’s no economic paper out there that suggests it has any effect. The amount seized is so minuscule compared to the actual size of the supply.