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Press Advisory: Ninety-Nine Percent Say They Wouldn't Use Hard Drugs If Legalized, According to Zogby Poll

Washington, DC -- Marking the 74th anniversary of the repeal of national Alcohol Prohibition, StoptheDrugWar.org (DRCNet) on Tuesday released polling results suggesting that drug prohibition's main supporting argument may be simply wrong. Drug policy reformers point to a wide range of demonstrated social harms created by the drug laws -- crime and violence, spread of infectious diseases, official corruption, easy funding for terrorist groups, to name a few -- while prohibitionists argue that use and addiction would explode if drugs were legalized. But is the prohibitionist assumption well-founded?

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/dc-beer-raid-small.jpg
DC-area beer raid during Prohibition (Library of Congress)
Zogby polling data released today asked 1,028 likely voters, "If hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine were legalized, would you be likely to use them?" Ninety-ninety percent of respondents answered, "No." Only 0.6 percent said "Yes." The remaining 0.4 percent weren't sure.

The results are similar to usage rates occurring under today's "drug war," as measured by the federal government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health (formerly the National Household Survey). The 2006 NSDUH found 0.3 percent of the population had used heroin in the past month and 2.4 percent had used cocaine. Even for cocaine, the numbers are compatible, because Zogby surveyed persons aged 18 years and up, while NSDUH begins with age 12; and because of the poll's statistical margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

A comparison of drug use rates in countries with criminal penalties for drug use with the drug use rates of countries that have decriminalized personal use also suggests that policy may play only a secondary role in determining use rates. For example, in the Netherlands, where marijuana is sold openly in the famous "coffee shops," 12 percent of young adults age 15-24 reported using marijuana during 2005, as compared with 24 percent in neighboring France, where marijuana is an arrestable offense, according to data compiled by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction.In the United States, where police make nearly 800,000 marijuana arrests each year, young adults age 18-25 in the 2004-2005 survey year reported past-year marijuana use at the rate of 27.9 percent.

David Borden, StoptheDrugWar.org's executive director, commented when releasing the Zogby data:

"Prohibition is sending hundreds of billions of dollars per year into the global criminal underground. That money fuels violence and disorder on the streets of our cities, while simultaneously helping to finance international terrorist organizations. Meanwhile, inflation-adjusted cocaine prices are a fifth of what they were 30 years ago, and any kid who wants to join the Mafia can sign up to deal it in his school. Addicts are harmed by the prohibition policy worst of all. It's time to stop shooting ourselves in the feet, and to control and regulate drugs through legalization."

The full Zogby poll results are available online at: http://stopthedrugwar.org/legalization

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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A survey researchers comment

"If hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine were legalized, would you be likely to use them?" Ninety-ninety percent of respondents answered, "No."

This kind of question is extremely unreliable as people tend to say what they think is expected of them. I would also point out the more than 1% of the respondents have almost certainly done heroin or cocaine already.

borden's picture

that's not the point

Dear anonymous:

Of course the question is not equivalent to the questions asked by the government's drug use surveys -- because it does not ask the same question. Predicting one's future choices in a hypothetical situation is different than reporting on one's past choices, and people often are over-optimistic about how disciplined they will be about their future choices. I intended to stick to my diet and be 50 pounds lighter than I am now, for example. People who have already tried cocaine may never use it again in the future. Some respondents may have interpreted trying something once as not being the same as "using them" in a more general sense.

Nevertheless, the question is clearly valid for purposes of making the basic point in our news release, which is that almost everyone considers the use of these drugs to be undesirable or inadvisable, for reasons that are not dependent on their legal status. With respect to this point, the fact that the percentage answering in the affirmative is lower than the percentage who sometimes use cocaine, for example, may actually strengthen the case -- even users of the drug often don't think it's a good idea to use them, for reasons that are not dependent on their legal status.

And therefore, as we wrote, the core assumption underlying prohibition, that it is necessary to prevent massive increases in use, may simply be wrong. Show us the evidence that supports that assumption!

David Borden, Executive Director
StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC
http://stopthedrugwar.org

They know!

Look, the elite know that this war is wrong. They know that it would be better for us all as a WHOLE to admit these policies are counter productive and harmful. We are looking at a spec, and not the whole picture. The reallity of this is that if they were to do the right thing, they would not only loose power, but the real crimes that are commited every day by those who are above the law would start come out. Its age old....create a problem, then offer the only solution. Divide and conquer. As long as the people stay divided by unsolvable problems, they can not focus on the real problems. What is the real problem? The real problem is that the land of the free and home of the brave is now the land of the oppressed and hidding place of the fearful. We lost our rights that were earned through the shedding of blood and really don't deserve them any more. Go ahead and vote all you want...it wont change a thing. Through fear, and intimidation, this generation has lost their freedom to the elite...to the new world order. Justice is baught and paid for. Liberty is just a word. And this generation really doesent care. The war on drugs is just a distraction, and i don't care how much you howl.....THEY WILL KEEP IT THAT WAY. Try to take the kings crown peasent, and see what happens to you!

Fear?

I just posted a comment "They know" and after pondering i decided not to put my name on there.....I don't deserve my freedom either it seems.

D.L.Matkins Sr.

Drug war news/Vancouver,B.C.Canada

[email protected] Vancouver,B.C. Canada What's the matter doc?Feeling picked on?I've been picked on to the tune of Midnight special for my beliefs and I wouldn't mind the 12 years of my life back but freedom does have it's costs.I hope you never find out just how much.I made my choices and knew the consequences and I never once bitched or moaned about my lot.I did my time and I never saw a crime.I was another victim of harry anslinger and his rascist rants and of the other racist paranoids that thought 5% was too much.What percent do you and your cronies have in prisons,federal state or private?How many pot smokers are greasing up right now so they don't have their throats cut,or worse?It's been common knowlege for the forty years I've been watching this situation go from bad to really bad and it's always been 1-3% for heroin and that used to be the only really significant figure.Then the genie got out of the bottle and now there's no way to put it back.The harder you guys push(no pun intended)the more profitable it becomes and the more product is brought into the market.You guys are capitalists.You should get it!Remember Al Capone?What is it you guys don't get

Drug war news/Vancouver,B.C.Canada

[email protected] Vancouver,B.C. CanadaThe above post was in reply to DR.DLMatkins sr.He seemed to need a shoulder.

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