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Poll: Americans Declare War on Drugs a Failure

Further indication that tide is turning in U.S.

- Common Dreams staff

In the wake of historic poll victories for marijuana legalization, a new survey finds that Americans overwhelmingly believe the war on drugs is a failure.

(Image by ThoughtPolicy) According to the conservative-run Rasmussen Reports, only seven percent of American Adults think the United States is winning the war on drugs, compared with the 82 percent who believe we are not.

Huffington Post writes that that is a "marked decrease in support since AngusReid Public Opinion last posed the question in June, when two-thirds of Americans considered it a failure."

The New York Times estimates that the government has spent "$20 billion to $25 billion a year on counternarcotics efforts over the last decade," not including the tremendous 'real costs' associated with prosecuting and incarcerating drug offenders. The Times adds that, despite the enormous expenditure, over the past twenty years Americans' use of hard drugs has remained relatively stable.

Rasmussen also found that one third of survey responders think that the U.S. spends too much on the war on drugs. Huffington Post lists some of the other poll findings:

  • 51 percent of respondents said alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, while 24 percent said pot is more dangerous and 24 percent aren't sure.
  • 60 percent said marijuana laws should be left to the states, while 27 percent said enforcement should be done by the federal government.
  • 8 percent of respondents said they hadn't smoked pot in the last year.
  • Recent pot users are twice as likely as non-users—60 percent to 30 percent—to think the government spends too much money on the war on drugs.

The Rasmussen poll just adds further weight to the argument that American sentiments regarding marijuana are turning. On November 6th voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana use in two states—Washington and Colorado—while adding Massachusetts and Montana to the 24 other states that have previously either legalized medical marijuana use or passed laws minimizing or eliminating penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis, or both.

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