Like cannabis legalization before it, decriminalizing drugs used to seem like a far-fetched idea that would remain out of reach, thanks to decades of of propaganda and billions spent by the prison-industrial complex entrenching the Drug War within our society. However, 50 years after Richard Nixon first declared the War on Drugs, a new poll shows that a supermajority of Americans have declared the War on Drugs a failure with 66% wanting to follow Oregon’s lead in “eliminating criminal penalties for drug possession and reinvesting drug enforcement resources into treatment and addiction services.”
The support for decriminalizing drugs jumped 11% from a CATO poll in 2019 that found that 55% of voters favored ending criminal penalties for possession. Adding that enforcement resources would be invested in treatment could explain a lot of the 11 point jump in support, a winning policy combination that garnered the support of nearly 59% of Oregonians who voted for Measure 110 last November. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) backed the Bully Pulpit Interactive poll and released statements regarding the findings:
“A different reality – one where we treat people who use drugs with dignity and respect, and one where drugs are no longer an excuse for law enforcement to surveil, harass, assault and even kill Black, Latinx and Indigenous people – is 100 percent possible, and these results clearly prove that,” said Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
“On this 50th anniversary of the drug war, President Biden must make good on his campaign promises and take steps to begin dismantling the system of over-policing and mass incarceration that is endemic to the War on Drugs. Today, drug possession continues to be the number one arrest in the United States, with more than 1.35 million arrests per year. Every 25 seconds, a person is arrested for possessing drugs for personal use, with Black people disproportionately targeted by this over-policing,” said Udi Ofer, Director of the ACLU’S Justice Division.
With a whopping 83% of US voters agreeing that the War on Drugs has failed, it’s clearly time for citizens, legislators, and policymakers to look to implement sensible reforms that will treat drug use as a health matter, instead of a criminal one. We aren’t going to arrest and jail our way towards a drug-free society. It’s time to quit being naive and be realistic. Not many enjoy admitting that they made a mistake, but Uncle Sam made a huge one waging war against our own citizens. What people are finally realizing is that our policies shouldn’t be determined by our feelings about drugs, but about our concerns about what is best for our people. What do you want for your loved ones that may use drugs? Do you want a prison sentence without any adequate treatment or recovery programs or do you want to provide them with the health services that they may need? We should be investing in people, not prisons and while it’s five decades too late, it’s never too late to do the right thing. It’s time to end the Drug War.
Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI) conducted a nationally representative survey among 800 registered voters between
May 17- 20, 2021. 400 interviews were conducted via phone (40% cell) and 400 conducted online. Results were
weighted to be representative of the nation’s registered voters. While margin of error calculations do not apply to
non-random samples, the margin of error on a truly random sample of 800 is +/- 3.46 percentage points at the
95% confidence interval.
Kind Leaf is proud to help fund important treatment, harm reduction, and recovery services that benefit our local community.