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Two-Thirds of American Voters Support Decriminalizing Drugs

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A new survey from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has found two-thirds of American voters believe the War on Drugs should end and support decriminalizing simple possession of all drugs.

Of the survey respondents, 66 percent support the policy of removing criminal penalties for simple possession and “reinvesting drug enforcement resources into addiction and treatment services.” Support for decriminalization varied along the political spectrum, with 82 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Independents responding in support of decriminalization, while only 40 percent of Republicans supported it. Oregon has already considered a bill that would decriminalize possession of all drugs in the state.

The poll results were released ahead of the 50th anniversary of the beginning of former President Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs. More than 80 percent of those surveyed believed the War on Drugs was a failure, with 82 percent of Republicans believing it was a failure, followed by 83 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of Independents. Only 12 percent of all respondents believed the War on Drugs was successful.

“The Biden administration can make headway in ending this harmful and racist war by commuting the sentences of people incarcerated in federal prison for drugs,” Udi Ofer, director of the ACLU’S Justice Division, said. “Biden does not need congressional approval to act, but doing so will help reduce the problem of mass incarceration and the over-policing of Black and Brown communities in the United States.”

The survey was conducted by Bully Pulpit Interactive on behalf of the ACLU and the DPA. 800 registered voters were surveyed by phone and online. Last year, the DPA released a new legislative proposal titled “Dismantling the Federal Drug War: A Comprehensive Drug Decriminalization Framework” that suggested eliminating penalties for possession and adding more support for treatment and addiction resources.

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