Poll: Americans Strongly Favor Treatment Over Jail for Drug Offenders

Seven out of ten Americans believe that first and second-time drug offenders should receive treatment instead of jail time, according to an ABC NEWS.com telephone poll released yesterday. The poll reflects the public’s noticeable shift away from traditional get-tough approaches frequently espoused by Congress.
“Americans demand a cease-fire in the war on drugs,” said NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre. “They support legalizing medical marijuana; they oppose sending pot smokers to jail, and they prefer treatment instead of incarceration for other minor drug offenders.”
Last November, California voters overwhelmingly approved a state initiative mandating treatment in lieu of incarceration for non-violent drug offenders. Arizona voters endorsed a similar proposition in 1996. Additional drug treatment initiatives will likely appear on the ballot in Florida, Michigan and Ohio, ABC NEWS.com reported.
The most recent survey was conducted by telephone among a random sample of 1,024 adults. The poll follows a March 21 survey released by the Pew Research Center that found 74 percent of Americans think the drug war is unwinnable.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director, at (202) 483-8751.