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Nov 17, 2012

New approach needed on drugs; Scott Rasmussen

Since Nixon launched the ‘War on Drugs’ there seems to have been a constant increase in usage of recreational substances, along with an ever escalation of efforts to stamp this out, matched with an ever increasing rate of violence and incarceration.  Drugs have demonstrated the folly of prohibition in the same way as alcohol did in the 1920s.
In the recent US elections, ballot initiatives were passed in Washington State and Colorado, which effectively made marijuana legal, subject to conditions.  These were state solutions to state problems and should be allowed to remain in force, although with the most aggressive drug warrior in US history being President, it is doubtful he will take this lying down.
Rasmussen though, finds that the American public is looking for some sanity and new ideas on the subject: 
More than 40 years ago, the federal government launched a war on drugs. Over the past decade, the nation has spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting that war, a figure that does not even include the high costs of prosecuting and jailing drug law offenders. It's hard to put a price on that aspect of the drug war since half of all inmates in federal prison today were busted for drugs. 
Despite the enormous expense and growth of the prison population, only 7 percent of American adults now think the United States is winning the War on Drugs. Eighty-two percent disagree. The latest statistics on drug usage support that conclusion. 
Earlier this month, voters in Colorado and Washington sent the clearest signal yet that the nation is looking for a new approach to deal with the issue of drug abuse. They voted to legalize the use of marijuana in their states. Those decisions fly in the face of federal law and set the states on a collision course with the federal government.      
But six out of 10 Americans believe the federal government should get out of the way and let individual states decide how they want to address the issue within their own borders. Only 27 percent think the federal government should establish national rules. 
Underlying the public desire for a new approach is pragmatism. Nationally, 51 percent of Americans believe that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana. Only 24 percent see pot as the more dangerous drug.     
But that doesn't mean Americans simply want to legalize what you can buy on the street, eliminate the penalties and pretend there is no risk. The data confirms the innate sense of pragmatism driving public opinion. When we ask Americans simply whether they favor legalization of marijuana, 45 percent say yes and 45 percent say no.      
But when we ask about legalizing and regulating marijuana in a similar manner to the way alcohol and cigarettes are regulated, support for legalization increases to 56 percent. Only 36 percent remain opposed. …    
Left alone to come up with individual solutions, the states would come up with different initiatives as Washington and Colorado have done; they are not carbon copies.  Some of these will pan out better than others, which will have the effect of moving those with poorer legislation towards that which the more successful states are doing.
With a federal ‘one size fits all’ policy though, there is no alternative other than total prohibition, a policy that has never worked and never will.

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