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July 22, 2010

New poll reports that large majority of Americans consider "War on Drugs" a failure

As report in this press piece, "[n]early two-thirds of Americans believe their country has a serious drug abuse problem, but 65 percent think the federal government's 'War on Drugs' has been a failure, according to a new national Angus Reid poll." Here's more:

Low marks for the "War on Drugs" cross party lines, with 63 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of Independents picking the option of failure.  Just 8 percent believe the anti-drug war is a success.

The poll of 1,003 American adults, taken July 14 and 15, shows that the public is drawing a distinction between marijuana and other drugs.  A total of 52 percent supported the legalization of marijuana.  Just 8 percent would support legalization of heroin or powder cocaine or Methamphetamines.

More details on this poll appear in this Angus Reid release, and I found this particular political date tid-bit especially interesting:

More than half of respondents (52%) support the legalization of marijuana.  While clear majorities of Democrats (57%) and Independents (59%) agree with this course of action, only about two-in-five Republicans (38%) concur.

These numbers confirm my instinct that supporting (or at least not opposing) marjuana legalization movements and initiatives might be an especially effectively way for Democrats to help energize some of its voters during this coming off-year election and also a way to sway some of the independents that, according to other polls, are moving away from Democrats in large numbers.

July 22, 2010 at 04:19 PM | Permalink


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Duh! Failure is an understatement. Soon marijuana will be legal in California and other States will follow.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 22, 2010 8:03:13 PM

The federal deficit is spiraling out of control, the war in Afghanistan is slipping away (very much like the war in Iraq was slipping away from Bush in 2006), and now we hear that the road for the Dems is to campaign on marijuana.

Debt, defeat and dope. I love it.

Note to Dems: Go for it! Please!!!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 22, 2010 9:43:58 PM

Partisan politics certainly does play a part in understanding who favors marijuana legalization, however I did not see raw numbers in the study and did not see a protocol for the study. We do not know what % of the respondents were self identified as independents. We also do not know on what end of the political spectrum the independents fall.

It is a false assumption to believe that a majority of independents fall in the the democratic camp. My "assumption" - which I have no basis for- is that they do not.

If I were a republican running for office, I would not want to take a hard line against legalizing marijuana. I don't think that is a slam dunk winner for either party. Republicans, especially, will need all the independent voters they can get

Posted by: beth | Jul 22, 2010 10:31:11 PM

beth --

I agree that the Reps would be nuts to campaign against dope, but for different reasons.

Most people don't care about it. They don't smoke it and have nothing to do with it. It's a pet of the defense bar. What average voters care about is reckless spending of money we don't have (but the taxpayers are on the hook for), a jobless recovery (if you want to call this thing a recovery at all), digging a hole for the next generation, imminent higher taxes, chaos in Obama's "strategy" in Afghanistan, etc.

Obama has been President for a year and a-half. The Dems have had both Houses for three and a-half. Congress is wildly unpopular and the right track/wrong track figure is off the chart.

The reason you aren't going to hear beans about marijuana, except in a very few states, is that whichever party starts talking about it will prove how utterly disconnected it is with what people are actually worried about. For that reason, and being a Republican, I hope the Dems will start shouting about legalization from the rooftops. The more they do, the more they'll dig themselves into what already appears to be quite a deep hole.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 22, 2010 11:06:27 PM

I don't think you should hope for that. Both parties are afraid of taking a stand on the issue, but I don't believe advocating and campaigning for continued prohibition of pot would get any traction. The criminal justice system is beginning to be perceived as part of the problem of government excess.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I've spent most of my life working and playing with corporate and professional self identified conservatives, and even with these old folks - this issue is over. I must unfortunately also identify myself as old. I do realize that these personal observations are not in any way valuable for policy, but I just don't think it resonates as a real clear partisan issue anymore.

Republicans must depend on support from the libertarian end of the spectrum, and for the most part they view this as a big government issue. I guess we'll see if the pendulum swings.

Watching democrats climb out of the pockets of the teachers unions is another example of a sea change. I think there is some shifting sand.

Posted by: beth | Jul 23, 2010 1:30:12 AM

beth --

"I must unfortunately also identify myself as old."

You and me both, kiddo.

You have a gentle touch that I'm sure goes over well with almost all the readers here.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 23, 2010 4:23:45 AM

Anyone against the legalization of marijuana is one heck of a greedy person. Think about it, they go out of their way to take away our freedom and lock us up because we chose to enjoy a natural plant that humans have been consuming for thousands of years? It's only been illegal for about 60 years or so, and that should quickly change, as it's more than just a plant, it's a choice that anyone should have the right to make. It's not illegal to be lazy, so it shouldn't be illegal to enjoy a nice toke every now and then. Maybe it's not a VERY important issue, but it's a civil rights issue at that, which makes it important enough to fight for. What's the saying? Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Locking people up for choosing a healthier alternative to alcohol, just doesn't make any sense and is giving gangs and drug dealers power, as they have full control of the market. If we regulate and tax, not only does that put the drug dealers out of business, it helps puts the economy back IN business! Talk about an easy solution!

Posted by: Vince | Jul 23, 2010 11:38:32 AM

Follow the money, Vince. . . .There are too many constituencies whose bread is buttered just fine under the current criminalization regime. If it were only about freedom and civil liberties, legalization would have occurred decades ago.

Posted by: Mark # 1 | Jul 23, 2010 12:18:52 PM

Thanks Bill

"Last Call" by Daniel Okrent is an historical saga about the great social experiment of Prohibition. It's a meticulously detailed account of the atmosphere that lead to this huge transformation of our social mores. It's not at all dry and is very funny.

Time resolves the question of power. We now have a very powerful federal government. A country's complexion and civility is always in the balance. We'll all find out how solid the covenant is between the government and the governed. I for one am hoping it doesn't fray. Right now, I feel on the ragged edge, but hopeful.

Posted by: beth | Jul 23, 2010 5:33:39 PM

Good article.

The War on Drugs has been an absolute failure. Interestingly, it has done little to make illegal drugs unavailable. My juvenile clients tell me that the most difficult "drug" for them to purchase is alcohol. Yet, they can buy street drugs any time of day or night. This "war" prevents legitimate businesses from selling a regulated "product" that many people wish to purchase, thereby enticing the least desirable people to fill the void. The result is organized crime on a level that makes the prohibition era organized crime element seem like law abiding citizens; the dealers are eventually imprisoned, many of the users either overdose or live the life of an addict, and the police are empowered to violate of constitutional rights. From what I can see, the only people who benefit from this asinine system are those who build and supply prisons and criminal defense lawyers.


Kevin Mahoney

Posted by: Kevin | Jul 23, 2010 9:40:44 PM

Inspiring and educational post. We should really take a move as early as now if we want to have a good future. As the saying goes we can only be an instrument of success if we strive to be successful.

Posted by: Criminal Defense Lawyer Miami Florida | Dec 2, 2011 5:14:42 AM

I'm impressed. You're truly well informed and very intelligent. You wrote something that people could understand and made the subject intriguing for everyone. I'm saving this for future use.

Posted by: Los Angeles Mediators | Jan 11, 2013 4:26:33 AM

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