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New Pew Poll Confirms Americans Ready To End War On Drugs


war on drugsA new national survey released today by the Pew Research Center reveals that a broad majority of Americans are ready to significantly reduce the role of the criminal justice system in dealing with people who use drugs.

Among the key findings of the report:

  • More than six in ten Americans (63%) say that state governments moving away from mandatory prison terms for drug law violations is a good thing, while just 32% say these policy changes are a bad thing. This is a substantial shift from 2001 when the public was evenly divided (47% good thing vs. 45% bad thing).  The majority of all demographic groups, including Republicans and Americans over 65 years old, support this shift.
  • At the same time, there has been a major shift in attitudes on whether the use of marijuana should be legal. As recently as four years ago, about half (52%) said they thought the use of marijuana should not be legal; 41% said marijuana use should be legal. Today those numbers are roughly reversed – 54% favor marijuana legalization while 42% are opposed.  Just 16% say it should not be legal for either medical or recreational use.
  • Two-thirds (67%) say the government should focus more on providing treatment for people who use drugs like cocaine and heroin. Just 26% think the focus should be more on prosecuting people who use such drugs.

“There’s a new consensus that mandatory minimums are no longer appropriate for drug and other nonviolent offenders,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “This is reflected and confirmed by the growing bipartisan support for rolling back and ending such laws.”

“It’s good to see yet another poll confirm the results of other state and national polls showing majority support for legalizing marijuana,” continued Nadelmann. “And it’s nice to see that Americans overwhelmingly support treatment-instead-of-incarceration. But it’s important to recognize that there has been overwhelming support for treatment-instead-of-incarceration for well over a decade now – and that we’ve reached the point where the public needs to be better educated about the benefits of providing treatment outside the criminal justice system rather than within and through it. It would be a shame if this latest poll result were used to promote drug courts and other coercive, abstinence-only programs rather than meaningful treatment in the community.”

“Given that the vast majority of Americans don’t think people should be prosecuted for drug possession, it’s time to ask the question: Why are we still arresting people for nothing more than drug possession?” added Nadelmann.

The report comes at a pivotal moment. From liberal stalwarts to Tea Party favorites, there’s now a bipartisan consensus that our country incarcerates too many people, for too much time, at too much expense to taxpayers.

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have made a series of moves over the past year indicating that they are serious about reducing mass incarceration and fixing the crimi¬nal justice system. And in an otherwise-bitterly-divided Congress, legislators from both sides of the aisle are pushing to reform mandatory minimum drug laws. The reforms are supported by a group of Senators who can only be described as strange bedfellows: Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island).

Despite major shifts in public opinion, the drug war remains entrenched in a complex web of state, local and federal policies.

More than 1.5 million people are arrested in the U.S. every year for a drug law violation. The vast majority – more than 80 percent – are arrested for possession only. Roughly 500,000 Americans are behind bars on any given night for a drug law violation, including more than 55,000 people in state prisons for simple drug possession.

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. I vasilated my self on this issue, and really think that education is the key, if you realize the price to pay for recreational use of heroin before you push the needle, a sane person wouldn’t do it. Coca in its natural form is as harmless as coffee. Until recently I didn’t know METH came from a plant. I am against people loosing their lives for any behavior against themselves, or a police state to enforce it. I am for knowledge, self awareness and self exploration. You say your against drugs but failed to mention alcohol or tobacco. I am against any kind of abuse, I have to have a purpose to do things, whether I’m sick and need to feel better, or looking for a new level of self awareness. And please save your angry replies, this is for myself not to say you can do whatever you want to do, long as you don’t tell me what to do

  2. What’s gonna be hardest for them to give up is the $$$ they’ll lose by ending the drug war. These people are TOTALLY addicted to that $$. I mean CO cops are saying by legalizing marijuana they now need even MORE $$$ to ensure compliance! Wasn’t the point to STOP arresting people over cannabis? Less arrests means the need for MORE $$$? WTF?

  3. I agree with the Doc the war on cannabis needs to end. Cannabis is a lot safer for you than most prescription drugs of any used for any reason with less harmful side affects. Cannabis is not a gateway drug but Vicodine is .i have 3 extended family members die from addiction 1 from meth,1 from Vicodine and oxy that started because of a broken arm. Another started from rec use of Vicodin and need in a heroin Overdose. The government needs to spend more resources on other truly harmful high addictive drugs.just so everyone understands I do not use at all I smoked cannabis for years, years ago. I have never done any other drug. I have always worked hard and have a wonderful family who I would not give up. I have bad back pains that I only use over the counter pain meds to control. I still work everyday and would use medical marijuana legal in my state but as I said earlier I will not loose my family. Saying this I don’t trust our police when it comes to our medical marijuana laws. Just because a state says its ok does not mean you are safe from prosecution.

  4. I’ve been arrested by several cops that said they did not want to arrest me but their jobs were dependent on it.

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fentanyl

    So you’re saying you want your children to have unsafe access to Methamphetamine instead of http://desoxyn.net/

    Drug addiction has more to do with the individuals genotype then the policies around any prospective addiction. There is a reason wild rodents are not used in addiction studies (they use rodents that are bred to be addicts). I could get what ever chemical I want, and I can also synthesize them as well as devise my own techniques. I don’t have Morphine and Heroin for lack of ability. It is in fact, rather easy to produce and handle vs some other drugs, and I think that is the only reason it is more prevalent than things like Oxycotin (which is 1.5 times stronger than Morphine). And, no, I didn’t have anyone teach me anything about that aside from references.

    We can not keep people ignorant in any ethical way and that is the only thing that will stop the would be drug explorers.


    Should people go to jail for selling Conium maculatum? How about Papaver somniferum? What about Arsenic? Psilocybes?

    The better position is to advocate that people be informed users if they are going to engage in consumption of any thing. I think the real issue is people’s lack of caring about actually being informed.

  6. Doc Deadhead on

    BTW, my daughter was the one holding the sign at the #hashbash saying “weed is safer than peanuts” and that’s why the real Doctor approached us. Kinda cool.

  7. Doc Deadhead on

    I DO NOT WANT an end to the war on drugs….I want an end to the war on CANNABIS.

    The war on drugs like heroin, meth, crack & cocaine needs to continue.

    I don’t want my children to have safe access to meth, I want them to have safe access to cannabis.

    Get it right…..when talking to people you(we) need to speak properly. So many folks out there are saying “you shouldn’t go to jail for a plant”, bullsh*t, you absolutely should go to jail for a field full of opium poppy plants!

    There are many VERY DANGEROUS plants out there that should be under tight control.

    It’s not that this is “a plant”, it’s that it is a HARMLESS plant.

    Let’s all change this to: “you shouldn’t go to jail for a HARMLESS plant”.

    EVERYONE needs to tell the prohibitionists about the “harmless” plant.

    Never has killed anyone….never will.

    As was explained to me at the #hashbash a couple days ago(by a real Doctor!), ‘water’ is more dangerous than weed. If you drink 3 gallons of water at one time it will throw your electrolytes so far out of whack it can cause cardiac arrest.

    Pot is safer than drinking water. Smoke more pot!

  8. yup, law enforcement agencies have been dependent on the WoD for financial gain and now that support for it is drying up they have resorted to other revenue sources…War on (domestic) Terrorism. Anything to keep the fear up and the money coming in. The best way to control a population this large with borders this far apart is fear and happily the fear of cannabis is dying along with the mass of idiots who perpetuated it. +1 to ending THIS war on Americans.

  9. It’s going to be hard for law enforcement to give up the war on drugs mentality. Just going to have to get used to it I guess.

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