It's that special time of year again, when the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime issues its World Drug Report, a roundup of drug seizures, prices, consumption, crime, and legal status around the world. It's a remarkable document, and the BBC has an executive summary in chart form here.
The report begins, predictably or not, by arguing against legalization exactly one century after intoxicants were prohibited for the first time (Shanghai, 1909). After reviewing the economic, health, and crime arguments for legalization (but not the personal-freedom factor), executive director Antonio Maria Costa writes, "There is no alternative to improving both security and health. The termination of drug control would be an epic mistake. Equally catastrophic is the current disregard of the security threat posed by organized crime."
There are no real surprises in the report, I'm afraid. In short, use of cocaine and heroin is down, and use of cannabis may also be shrinking. Seizures are fairly constant, use is steady although perhaps declining among America's youth. Indeed, it's business as usual, with illegal drugs remaining one of the world's more lucrative industries among the criminal. And if that's not an argument for ending prohibition, I don't know what is.