Americans vote against the drug war

Whether or not the American war on drugs is winning in the streets, it's taken a beating at the election booth. Last month, voters in five states overwhelmingly passed drug policy reform initiatives.

  • This year, California passed Proposition 36 with more than 60 percent of the popular vote shifting the criminal justice system's focus from incarceration to treatment.

  • Utah and Oregon passed, by 69 percent and 66 percent, respectively, laws that make it harder for police to seize the property of suspected drug offenders.

  • Colorado and Nevada passed initiatives making marijuana legal for medical use – joining Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia.

  • Since 1996, 17 of the 19 drug policy reform initiatives have passed.

    The impact of the California reforms will be profound. A third of California's prison inmates are behind bars on drug charges. Under the proposition, up to 36,000 non-violent drug offenders and parole violators are expected to be transferred to treatment programmes. Proposition 36 is also expected to save California taxpayers more than $200 million a year, and an additional $500 million by eliminating the need for new prisons.

    Source: Ariana Huffington, People Want Cease Fire on War on Drugs, Dallas Morning News, November 27, 2000.

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