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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Public opinion has shifted on drug policy

In class we talk about how society is "progressing."

As in becoming more progressive.

As in making progress.

As in moving into the future without being too encumbered by the past.


Majorities of respondents in the three countries (Britain 56%, Canada 68%, United States 74%) welcome the concept of using alternative penalties—such as fines, probation or community service—rather than prison for non-violent offenders. At least seven-in-ten Britons (70%), Americans (74%) and Canadians (78%) believe personal marijuana use should be dealt with through alternative penalties. Support for similar guidelines for credit card fraud, drunk driving and arson is decidedly lower.

Our society is progressing. Punitive responses to recreational drug use (as well as drug abuse problems) are a thing of the past. The only problem is that current day law is not a thing of the past.

But it will be soon. Because we are progressing.

The people are already there. Now it is time for the law to catch up.

And here is the report.

Dude, you are so far behind the times, mmmmkay?


  1. I would argue that America is progressing on certain things, but drug policy isn't (and most likely won't be) one of them. Think about it - most people do not smoke marijuana, and even fewer still do harder drugs. In fact, those that do smoke marijuana are more likely to smoke it in a recreational manner (read: rarely) than on a chronic basis. The simple fact of the matter is this: most people are just not invested enough in what's at stake to really care about changing drug policy.

    A good example of this would be the recent defeat of Proposition 19 in California (California!), a referendum put to their voters which would have legalized recreational marijuana. Public opinion was not much different in 2010 than today with regards to legalization or alternative penalties. Now, you could say I'm comparing apples to oranges, that legalization is a far cry from instituting alternative penalties, but think about it this way: if a more controversial attempt regarding marijuana received only 60% voter turn out (not much better than a run-of-the-mill presidential election)in a state that is known for it's liberal tendencies, what makes you think voters would care to turn out for an even less controversial step? And we haven't even gotten to more hardcore drugs.

    With regard to legislators, drugs are too hot of a subject for them to touch. It will either piss off some constituents or make a few happy (but not more likely to vote); it's simply not worth it for them to initiate any real change. Legislators, more often than not, are for the status quo. It's depressing to think about, but then again, it's the way our government has always been. Perhaps there will come a day in which the American people will suddenly care about the prohibition on drugs the same way they cared about the prohibition on alcohol, but if that day is coming soon, I certainly haven't seen it.

  2. I agree with Robert, even if many politicians think that drug policies should be reformed, it is a risk to pass these new policies. Politicians will do what is safe - however I agree with you in the sense that our politics are far behind our society.

    I have a problem with the realities that Robert and I have pointed out here, I find it distasteful and undemocratic that we have to face a group of politicians who are not representing the constituents in this manner - their intended purpose - but until we decide to make ourselves these public servants, all we can do is complain and hope something changes.