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Public Opinion: Three-Quarters of Likely Voters Believe Drug War is Failing and More than One-Quarter Favor Legalization, Zogby Poll Finds

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #554)
Consequences of Prohibition
Politics & Advocacy

According to a Zogby/Inter-American Dialogue poll released Thursday, more than three-quarters of likely voters polled said America's drug war is a failure. That is a sharp contrast with current US and state drug policies. The poll also found significant differences between US policy in the hemisphere and what respondents would like to see.

On drug policy, 76% believe the US war on drugs is failing. That included the vast majority of Democrats (86%) and independents (81%) and even a majority of Republicans (61%). Among Barack Obama supporters, 89% agreed, and among John McCain supporters 61% agreed. While it is not clear that a belief that the war on drugs is failing suggests support for drug reform -- it could include those who believe it is failing because we have not tried hard enough -- it does suggest an emerging consensus that the current path is the wrong one.

When asked what was the best way to confront drug use and the international drug trade, respondents were split. Some 27% of likely voters said legalizing some drugs was the best approach (Obama supporters 34%, McCain supporters 20%); 25% said stopping drugs at the border (Obama supporters 12%, McCain supporters 39%); 19% said reducing demand through treatment and education; and 13% said crop eradication in source countries was the best approach.

The poll was by no means limited to drug policy. On other hemispheric issues, it found that 60% believe the US should revise its policies toward Cuba, 67% support a path to citizenship for tax-paying undocumented immigrants who learn English, 46% believe the US should seek to improve ties with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (10% want to completely break relations), 54% believe the US should lower tariffs on Brazilian ethanol, and 42% believe the North American Free Trade Agreement should be revised.

"The poll results indicate that American public opinion is far more open and flexible on issues of importance for US relations with Latin America than current policy would suggest," noted Peter Hakim, the President of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank that collaborated with Zogby International on the poll. "It also suggests, however, that public opinion may not be all that relevant in decisions regarding policy issues of greatest concern to Latin America -- that these may be largely determined by smaller groups with intense sentiments about the issues," he said in a press release accompanying the poll results.

"While there are significant differences between Obama and McCain supporters on most issues, the poll suggests that the general public agrees on ethanol tariffs, temporary workers, and the failure of the drug war -- these are important issues in hemispheric relations that the next US president will have an opportunity to deal with," Hakim added.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

And yet the ONDCP tries to justify its War on Drugs by producing favorable (i.e., declining) rates of teenage marijuana use in its "Monitoring the Future" surveys. What arrogance! The ONDCP thinks it can monitor the future when it cannot even monitor the present.

For example, we know that drug-related violence is escalating madly in America, but are current drug crimes going up or down? Of course they are going up. Even if teenage marijuana use is declining, teenage use of far-more-dangerous prescription drugs, glue sniffing, solvent huffing, and alcohol abuse is on the rise. Plus, the federal government refuses to recognize even the medical use of marijuana, so every state that passes a medical marijuana law produces that many more federal criminals. Medical marijuana users are breaking federal laws against possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana millions of times every second of every minute of every day.

Tens of millions of Americans are repudiating the War on Drugs through their daily actions, yet the ONDCP cannot even give us an accurate account of this. The ONDCP has given up on present-day America and justifies its punitive existence by asking us to see the progress they are making towards an imaginary, future-America that is drug-free.

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Inc.
844 Spruce St.
Trenton, NJ 08648
[email protected]

Sat, 10/04/2008 - 12:17pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Most of us are aware that the U.S. Government continues to maintain the old drug war refrain... that marijuana has no accepted medical value... yet the same U.S. Governmet holds the patent for... are you ready for this... "Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants".

That's right kiddies, your government currently holds U.S. Patent # 6,630,507 claiming: "Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties... cannabinoids are found to have particular applications as neuroprotectants... limiting neurological damage following... stroke and trauma... or in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases... such as Alzheimer's... Parkinson's... and HIV dementia".

Please, can someone tell me how a gov't that kills or incarcerates those that dare to disagree while claiming one thing while positioning itself to profit from the exact opposite can be legal... or moral... in this scoundrel ridden christian nation.

The government patent should be struck down as an illegally acquired property/intellectual right. The medical efficacy of Cannabis has been known by respected medical professionals for decades... literally centuries. Yet the u.s. government continues to prohibit, under the guise of regulation, the scientific study of the cannabis plant while obtaining the patent for the plants cannabinoids.

It's not the THC that scares the crap out of uncle scam... it's the BSBs... the 'Bullshit Blockers'!

Billy B. Blunt
Tacoma, WA

Sat, 10/04/2008 - 5:53pm Permalink

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