More than 40 years ago, the federal government launched a war on drugs. Over the past decade, the nation has spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting that war, a figure that does not even include the high costs of prosecuting and jailing drug law offenders. It’s hard to put a price on that aspect of the drug war since half of all inmates in federal prison today were busted for drugs.
Despite the enormous expense and growth of the prison population, only 7 percent of American adults now think the United States is winning the War on Drugs. Eighty-two percent disagree. The latest statistics on drug usage support that conclusion.
Earlier this month, voters in Colorado and Washington sent the clearest signal yet that the nation is looking for a new approach to deal with the issue of drug abuse. They voted to legalize the use of marijuana in their states. Those decisions fly in the face of federal law and set the states on a collision course with the federal government.
But six out of 10 Americans believe the federal government should get out of the way and let individual states decide how they want to address the issue within their own borders. Only 27 percent think the federal government should establish national rules.
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