The availability of drugs is at an all-time high. According to the British Medical Journal, heroin, cocaine and marijuana have never been cheaper. The price of the drug war, however, continues to climb due to costly, ineffective interventions that call for reform.

The prices of drugs have declined internationally, but the number of confiscations is on the rise. According to the Huffington Post, the price of cannabis dropped by nearly 86% between 1990 and 2007, while seizures of the drug nearly tripled. Despite intervention tactics, worldwide consumption from 1998 to 2008 of opiates, cocaine, and marijuana have increased by 35 percent, 27 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Whether heroin and cannabis from Australia, cocoa leaf from Latin America, or opium from Afghanistan; the trend appears to be the same.

Who should be held accountable? According to Politico, the failing the war on drugs costs the U.S taxpayer more than $50 billion a year to pay police, try drug users and traffickers, and imprison offenders. That money is spent on tactics that prove unsuccessful. The Drug Enforcement Administration has not been able to put more than a kink in the armor of the perpetrators.

As Dr. Wood, the Scientific Chair of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, puts it, “Clearly these often violent interventions aimed at reducing the drug market don’t work. You take the drug dealer off the corner, but that doesn’t make the market go away. It just creates an opportunity for somebody else.”

Through legalization and relaxed prosecution, high-ranking officials in Washington seek to diminish the costs of the drug war. At the American Bar Association in San Francisco in August, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he was ordering prosecutors to stop seeking maximum punishment for low-level drug offenders. The U.S has the highest incarceration rate in the world with more than 7.5 million behind bars, on parole, or on probation for their offences. Those rates affect the budget. Housing inmates costs each American $100,000 per year. This money could be invested in our schools or in our infrastructure.

Legalization is not the answer to every harmful drug on the market, but until this point, the government has combatted the propagation of drugs in vain, and it is time for them to explore new tactics. Congress should be willing to try creative solutions to this issue that is so costly to the American people.