Holder in Line With Public on Drug Reform; Just 6% Think People Using Marijuana Should Go to Jail

As Attorney General Eric Holder calls for major changes to federal drug sentencing reform today, in effect sidestepping mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses to reduce the number of non-violent offenders sentenced to incarceration, the Obama administration is likely to find support from the American public. The most recent Reason-Rupe poll of 1,003 Americans on cell phones and landlines found that just 6 percent of Americans say people found with marijuana should go to jail. In contrast, 35 percent say people smoking or in possession of marijuana should not be punished at all; 32 percent say they should be fined; and 20 percent favor rehabilitation and counseling.

While Holder’s policy reform stops far short of the drug decriminalization many Americans seek, it is ostensibly a step most Americans will approve. Even Republicans, Democrats, and Independents equally oppose jail sentencing for marijuana possession. The difference among political groups comes in whether there should be some form of punishment or not.

While about 4 in 10 Democrats and Independents think those found in possession of marijuana should not be punished at all, only 2 in 10 Republicans agree. Instead, about 4 in 10 Republicans prefer mandating fines rather than jail time, while only a quarter of Democrats agree. Interestingly, about equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats (about a quarter) favor mandatory rehabilitation or substance abuse counseling, only 14% of Independents agree. In fact, a majority (52%) of these Independents who also lean Democratic favor no punishment at all.

Men are more likely than women to oppose punishment for marijuana possession by a margin of 40 to 30 percent, however, comparing unmarried men to unmarried women the spread widens to 20 points (48 percent and 28 percent respectively).

Interestingly, tea party supporters (32 percent) are more likely to oppose punishment than self-identified Republicans (25 percent) who do not support the tea party movement. 

Nationwide telephone poll conducted May 9-13 2013 interviewed 1003 adults on both mobile (503) and landline (500) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results found here. Full methodology can be found here. Demographics and detailed tables are available here.

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  • Hyperion||

    Holder in Line With Public on Drug Reform; Just 6% Think People Using Marijuana Should Go to Jail

    Holder doesn't think people should go to jail for pot? Did he actually say that? Maybe I missed that part.

    Interestingly, about equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats (about a quarter) favor mandatory rehabilitation or substance abuse

    Ugh. Those people are worse than the ones who want pot smokers thrown into prison. The 2 parties and their useful idiots need to just go extinct already.

  • Hyperion||

    And, FIRST. FOE is really slipping these days.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't get first on every post. On some I just happen to mosey along as a new post is thrown up and I just happen to comment first.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Live up to your reputation man!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    94% of Americans wanted the slaves freed, but how many wanted the suspension of writ of habeas corpus?

  • Hyperion||

    We all want that. It's just that the Obama admin hasn't splained it well enough to us, yet.

    We want everything that they do, they just do a poor job explaining it so that us simpletons can understand it.

    'Look, we don't have a Spy program in these here United States. We have a program to protect the children.'

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Holder:

    "Sorry to interrupt this press conference, but I must go to order some door-smashing DEA/FBI/DHS/DOJ/IRS/ATF SWAT raids on innocent drug users."

    What an asshole.

  • Hyperion||

    "Sorry to interrupt this press conference, but I must go to order some door-smashing DEA/FBI/DHS/DOJ/IRS/ATF SWAT raids on innocent drug users."

    Oh, and BTW, did those extra billion rounds of ammo come in yet? Some people have more than one dog you know!

  • hotsy totsy||

    He forgot CPS!

  • SIV||

    Men are more likely than women to oppose punishment for marijuana possession by a margin of 40 to 30 percent, however, comparing unmarried men to unmarried women the spread widens to 20 points (48 percent and 28 percent respectively).

    Fits my observation that even many bitches who smoke pot think it should be illegal. That is why there are no female libertarians.

  • Calidissident||

    In both tables table it says that 22% of all Republicans support no punishment for people found possessing marijuana. In the second table, it says that 32% of the Tea Party supports no punishment, and 25% of non-TP Republicans support no punishment. This must mean that Tea Party Republicans are less likely than non-Tea Party Republicans to support no punishment, with the non-Republican libertarian contingent pushing the percentage of Tea Partiers who support no punishment to 32%. This surprises me a little. I'm not under the illusion that Tea Party Republicans are libertarian and I didn't expect a majority or anything to support no punishment, but I would expect it to be higher than non-TP Republicans.

  • John Thacker||

    Different polls. Look at the dates on the bottom. One was in February, one was in May.

  • R C Dean||

    If only 6% of Americans support criminalizing weed, why does the voting on medpot and legalizing referenda always come out the way it does?

  • SIV||

    No parent wants his or her precious little snowflake strung out on teh mary jane.

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