Americans would prefer that the government focus on getting help for people who use illegal drugs instead of prosecuting them, according to survey released April 2 by The Pew Research Center.
The survey found that 67 percent of people preferred the government to focus more on providing treatment for those who use illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Conversely, 26 percent think the government’s focus should be on prosecuting hard drugs users.
The majority of respondents, 63 percent versus 32 percent, also thought it good that some states have moved away from mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenders. In that same vein, 76 percent of the public feels there should be no jail time for people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana.
Last month, a three-judge panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that some offenders already convicted of marijuana possession can now appeal their cases because of the passing of Amendment 64. The panel already overturned one woman’s case citing a “significant change in the law.”
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said he intends to contest the ruling.
Nationwide, there has been a growing support for the legalization of marijuana, according to Pew. In 2009, 52 percent of Americans opposed legal marijuana, with 41 percent favoring it. Today those numbers have flip-flopped with 54 percent favoring legalization, and 42 percent opposing it.
Another Pew survey reported that during 2013, 12 states, including Colorado, eased state drug laws in some way.
Even though the views on drug use are changing nationally, most Americans still see drug abuse as a crisis (32 percent) or serious problem (55 percent). Pew has found that these views have remained almost constant since the 1990s.