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New Poll: Democrats and Republicans Agree That the Drug War is a Failure

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New Zogby data shows a bipartisan consensus that the drug war is a losing battle:

Three in four likely voters (76%) believe the U.S. war on drugs is failing, a sentiment that cuts across the political spectrum – including the vast majority of Democrats (86%), political independents (81%), and most Republicans (61%). There is also a strong belief that the anti-drug effort is failing among those who intend to vote for Barack Obama (89%) for president, as well as most supporters of John McCain (61%).

When asked what they believe is the single best way to combat international drug trafficking and illicit use, 27% of likely voters said legalizing some drugs would be the best approach -- 34% of Obama supporters and 20% of McCain backers agreed.

* One in four likely voters (25%) believe stopping the drugs at the border is the best tactic to battle drugs -- 39% of McCain supporters, but  just 12% of Obama backers agree.
* Overall, 19% of likely voters said reducing demand through treatment and education should be the top focus of the war on drugs.
* 13% believe that the best way to fight the war on drugs is to prevent production of narcotics in the country of origin.

At first glance, 27% support for legalization appears disappointing, but a look at the question itself provides a much more encouraging outlook. Respondents were asked to select "the single best way to handle the war on drugs" and here’s the breakdown of their responses:

Prevent production of narcotics at their country of origin:  12.7%
Stopping drugs at the U.S. border:                                            24.8%
Reducing demand through treatment and education:           18.7%
Legalizing some drugs in the U.S.:                                            27.5%
Ending the War on Drugs:                                                           8.2%
Not sure/none of the above:                                                        8.1%

Legalization was the most popular answer. Support for interdiction/eradication encompassed only 37.5% of respondents, thus the majority clearly supports some level of reform. I don’t see how you could look at this without concluding that supply reduction strategies lack public support. A smart politician could easily begin chipping away at the most militaristic aspects of the war on drugs without suffering any political consequences.

If there ever existed a tangible political advantage for candidates who play the "tough on drugs" card for votes, those days are behind us. The current political climate favors cutting bad programs and changing business-as-usual in Washington, D.C. The drug war belongs at the top of that list, and while it isn’t there yet, we are undeniably on a trajectory towards a unique moment when the political landscape that sustains prohibition will face re-evaluation. At that point, anything and everything we’ve understood about the politics of drug policy reform could change overnight.

Note: I will begin refering to this concept as "the new drug war politics."

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Very Encouraging!

I am very pleased to see those numbers! The people are starting to get the right idea, so I guess in, oh say, roughly 9824 years a politician with a brain and some balls might actually get behind the drug war reform movement!

Just kidding...with the economy tanking, people and government are going to be forced to cut programs and look at more cost-effective alternatives to incarceration. Vice "crime" enforcement will have to take a back seat to real crimes.

Great article, and I especially liked the article pointing out the fact that Prohibition V1.0 was repealed during the Great Depression.

Encouraging statistics

Seeing the stats shown here has proven that the powers to be should start reforms immediately. My concern is that these figures never get banded around in an official capacity so it might be worth with sending this to your local politician. Great stuff!


We spend too much time arguing about what the research shows, which doesn't particularly interest politicians. They care about public opinion, which actually favors us on some key issues.

We're reaching critical mass

It only takes 10% of the population actively demonstrating for change to effect reform. So, now we need a campaign to get people out and peacefully demonstrate that we demand change to make it happen. Cannabis is safer than the drugs called alcohol and tobacco and people know this. Cannabis also represents 85% of all illicit substances used. So, it makes sense that cannabis is the first substance that we should demonstrate to legalize, regulate, and tax. We need organizers. Is there an organization that actually organizes demonstration rally's? Regardless, the people of this nation will soon get together and demand change. Because, we just can't go on allowing our government to take away our rights, bully us, and destroy our lives. Change will come soon. It's been coming for a long time. But, our leaders and the press have blinders on. They will say, "where did these demonstrators come from?" and "we had no idea that the masses wanted change". With 76% of the people wanting to do things different than jailing and punishing drug users, we're reaching critical mass.

Yes it's a failure

Talk about being a hypocrit, jesus. Do some research. It starts with learning how to read.

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