More Americans Favor Treatment, Not Jail, for Hard Drug Users

A new study shows that the war on drugs might have run its course.

Posted: 04/03/2014 07:00 PM EDT
More Americans Favor Treatment, Not Jail, For Heroin Users

The nation seems to be shifting its attitude about the war on drugs, a new study shows.

Pew Research recently released "America's New Drug Policy Landscape," which found that 67 percent of Americans believe the government should turn its attention to treating illegal drug users. Only 26 percent say the government's focus should be on prosecuting those who use hard drugs.

The study also reveals that the majority of those surveyed across all demographics support a treatment-based approach to illegal drug use. Even 51 percent of Republicans who were found to be less supportive of the treatment option than Democrats and independents say that the government should focus more on treatment.

Other major findings include:

"By nearly two-to-one (63% to 32%), more say it is a good thing than a bad thing that some states have moved away from mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenders. In 2001, Americans were evenly divided over the move by some states to abandon mandatory drug terms.

As recently as four years ago, about half (52%) said they thought the use of marijuana should not be legal; 41% said marijuana use should be legal. Today those numbers are roughly reversed – 54% favor marijuana legalization while 42% are opposed." 

These findings came a day prior to Attorney General Eric Holder's speaking out about "a balanced approach" to what he previously referred to as an "urgent and growing public health crisis."

Referring to the crack cocaine crisis that ravaged the nation decades ago, Holder told a Senate committee on Thursday that the government now has a small window to prevent the heroin problem from getting "even more out of control than it already is," AP reports.


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(Photo: Lucy Nicholson /Reuters)

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