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Americans Believe in Treatment, Rather than Jail, for Illegal Drug Use

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Survey photo 3A majority of Americans (67%) support treatment rather than prosecution for users of illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine, according to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

This report comes at an important moment in the debate over how best to handle drug abuse.  With an overwhelming majority of those surveyed saying that drug abuse is a crisis (32%) or a serious problem (55%), the perception is changing on what can be done to alleviate it.  63% of those surveyed said that it is a good thing that some states have moved away from mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenders, while only half of those surveyed in 2001 agreed.  Bipartison congressional efforts are also underway to offer federal judges more discretion in mandatory sentences for drug crimes, while the United States Sentencing Commission may vote soon to lessen federal sentences for drug dealers.

The survey also found that alcohol is perceived as a bigger danger than marijuana, with 69% of respondents judging alcohol as more harmful to one’s health than marijuana and 75% believing that marijuana will eventually be legal to sell and use nationwide.

Source: New York Times

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