Drug War

Poll: 82 Percent of Americans Think the U.S. Is Losing the War on Drugs


"Only seven percent (7%) of American Adults think the United States is winning the war on drugs," says a new Rasmussen telephone poll conducted Nov. 9-10. Eighty-two percent of respondents say the U.S. is not winning that war, and 12 percent of respondents, according to Rasmussen (though maybe that's 11?) aren't sure. Only 23 percent of respondents, meanwhile, the think the U.S. should be spending more to fight the drug war.

Some other notable toplines from the Rasmussen poll:

  • 51 percent of respondents said alcohol is more dangerous than pot, while 24 percent said pot is more dangerous, and 24 percent aren't sure. 
  • 88 percent of respondents said they had not smoked marijuana in the last year
  • 60 percent said state governments "should decide whether marijuana is legal in a state," while 27 percent said that responsiblity belongs to the federal government.
  • 34 percent said that the U.S. spends too much on the drug war; 23 percent of respondents said we don't spend enough; and 24 percent said drug war spending is "about right."

Rasmussen's poll shows a noticeable decrease in drug war confidence from June, when AngusReid Public Opinion reported that

only 10 per cent of respondents believe that the "War on Drugs"—a term that has been used to describe the efforts of the U.S. government to reduce the illegal drug trade—has been a success, while 66 per cent deem it a failure. Majorities of Democrats (63%), Republicans (63%) and Independents (69%) agree with the notion that the "War on Drugs" has not been fruitful.

Other recent drug-war polls:

Support for Pot Legalization Crosses 50 Percent, With 56 Percent of Americans Now In Favor of Treating it Like Booze 

Poll: 74 Percent of Americans, Including 67 Percent of Republicans, Want Obama to End Medical Marijuana Crackdown

Record-High 50% of Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana Use

NEXT: Joe Biden Cameo on 'Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?' Unearthed

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Only 23 percent of respondents, meanwhile, the think the U.S. should be spending more to fight the drug war.

    IDIOTS. When you’re losing a war is when you need to double down. SURGE! This country needs to renew its addiction to the surge.

    1. Surge? It’s that the new bath salt and ketamine club drug?

      1. Surely you’ve heard of Surge!

        1. Sometimes words mean more than one thing.

          1. So, you meant Lt Surge the Vermillion City gym leader then?

      2. Surge is a synthetic compound created by infusing Slim Jims with Mountain Dew and expresso while riding a snowboard, to be followed up with a cocaine chaser.

        1. Ah! I see you’re familiar with my “training diet”.

        2. That’s “Serge”, you buffoon.

          1. try it with a twist. it’s good

            1. No of course not, don’t be stewpid.

            2. I suggest you enjoy one while answering that 3:00 am knock on the door by cops who don’t identify themselves as cops. Make sure you are carrying a gun for protection.

              1. It makes you bulletproof.

    2. One major problem with framing this as a “war” is this. Do we lose wars? FUCK NO, AND FUCK YOU FOR SUGGESTING THAT IT’S ACCEPTABLE. Losing wars means you lose prestige, surrender property and territory, and watch as the ENEMY rapes your wimminz.

      The “drug war” as an existential imperative is a foolish idea.

      1. That’s why everything is now framed as a war, for that very reason.

        War of Women, War on Christmas, War on Hunger, etc.

        It won’t end until we have a War on Non-Descriptive Hyperbole.

        1. Can we have a War on War?

          1. Must you constantly bring up Wilco?

            1. YES, please. Now this thread has a great soundtrack in my head!

            2. Must you constantly bring up agricultural supply chains?

            3. SF, he’s just trying to break your heart. Ignore it.

              1. Oh, sure, just support NutraSweet and undercut me. Et tu, nicole?

                1. Jesus, don’t cry

                  1. I’m trying not to!

                  2. I read that in the same vein as Charlie don’t surf..

                2. It was wrong and I admit it. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t easy…

                  1. nicole, you’re alright. I’ve got reservations about so many things, but not about you.

            4. *sigh* I miss the innocence I’ve known…

        2. Hyperbole, what is it good for? Absolutely EVERYTHING! Uh-huh.

        3. At some point, won’t people realize that the empirical evidence shows that the war on drugs does more damage to society than drug use?

          1. Survey says??!!!

            No 🙁

          2. the question is does the war on drug do more damage than drug use WOULD DO WITHOUT THE WAR ON DRUGS

            that’s relevant question imo. i think the answer is yes, but it’s not an easy empirical question, since the status quo is the WOD. one can look to countries without as WOD’y behavior though.

          3. It should be irrelevant anyways. Drugs should be legal because individuals have sovereignty over their own bodies and should be able to put anything they want into them. What effect this has on “society” is irrelevant.

            1. is is irrelevant IF one accepts that premise. a libertarians, we do. most people do not

            2. I’m with you, but this argument can work even with people who don’t believe in individual sovereignty.

            3. What everybody else said.

              I have arguments all the time with people who sincerely believe that one has obligations and responsibilities towards society which override individual liberty if/when they conflict. It’s a common and widespread belief. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

          4. The war on drugs is unwinnable, just as the war on alcohol (prohibition) also failed. When you put your energy into “war’ and ‘drugs’ that’s what receives your energy and hence gets stronger.

            As db says, “the empirical evidence shows that the war on drugs does more damage to society than drug use.” And to drug users. And to tax-payers’ pockets. But it does benefit those who reap drug profits. Now I’m wondering how come so many politicians support the war on drugs?

  2. So fucking what. The subject is taboo at the federal level. Can’t even talk about it without being shunned. These ballot initiatives are in conflict with federal law, and they’ll be given a rude smackdown. As will individuals who continue to defy the wisdom of our federal betters. Drug prohibition is here to stay.

    1. NO, they won’t be given a rude smackdown. they will win out and the feds will realize the gig is over and they can’t win on the state level.

    2. I am far more hopeful, at least on marijuana. I think it’s federally legal within 12 years, and 50% of states in 8.

      This is the same way alcohol prohibition went down – states said to the feds, you want to ban X, go ahead but we’re not helping. And soon it was obvious to everyone that the world will keep turning with legal X, and only an obstinate minority favor continued prohibition.

      I’m not optimistic on much when it comes to politics, so please, let me have this.

      1. yea, i agree on the war on MJ. they are losing (the feds) but moreso the “war” has been diminishing on the state level and it’s only going to get more permissive until we have full legalization in many more states. the war on MJ is over, the feds just don’t realize it yet. give ’em a couple of years to read the writing on the wall. all the naysayers here who think the initiatives in WA and CO will be smacked down by armies of feds are simply wrong. feds are going to grudgingly accept that the war on MJ over. there is no way they are going to go battle royale against the states on recreational mj.

        1. The point isn’t MJ. The point is state’s rights vs. federal and the feds will not give up on that. There’s a LOT more at stake than just MJ.

      2. The one hitch here is that FDR ran on ending Prohibition, unlike Captain Zero.

        1. But not until 1932. New York legalized alcohol at the state level in 1923, followed by others.

          1. From what I’ve read, FDR always ran on a pro-booze ticket, and made an explicit promise to legalize beer and wine for the 32 election.

            Even so, the current resident of the White House has no fucking intention of ending anything, excepting our relative wealth and freedom. And the lives of any 3rd worlder that gets in his way.

            1. Oh, right. I just meant that for my projected 8-12 year window on legalization, Obama is irrelevant. Or he’s Hoover, or something.

      3. I know a few people who’s minds have switched on the issue in the last 10 years or so…I like to think that’s wide spread too. I think even some people who don’t support or like it, realize that its a pointless agenda that is just wasting money by the truck loads. Plus, I think most adults realize despite the media’s depiction that the over whelming number of users are not goofy, jobless hippies.

    3. Drug prohibition is here to stay.

      No it isn’t. I had a bet with my twin brother in 2008 that federal prohibition would end completely within 20 years. Colorado and Washington are the first cracks in the facade, and it will start to crumble quickly after those two.

      1. agree. i am not saying heroin will be available in vending machines, but the war on MJ will be totally over and it will be “harm reduction” for the “hard drugs” not incarceration

        1. ” i am not saying heroin will be available in vending machines”

          awwwww wtf have I been saving all these quarters for!

        2. I’m of genx age and pretty much everyone I can think of at least tried pot in college so i’m not surprised to see people relaxing their attitudes. But this is on the individual level and there’s a big difference between people supporting something privately and actually admitting to it in public. There is SO much money in the drug war and it’s the mechanism that allows for so much other govt power. While pot just a victory, at the same time getting cold medicine is increasingly difficult and it’s escalating. The second you say “Cocaine” or Heroin should be decriminalized, let alone legal people get wayy uncomfortable and you get thought of as a crank in most circles. Even look at all the increasing stuff about prescription drugs. I don’t think the feds have even started the battle so to speak, and can’t imagine they’re going down without a fight. I’d LOVe to be wrong, but can’t see it for the life of me

          1. Met a girl heading to the police academy in the new year.
            She hadn’t heard WA and CO had voted for legalization.
            She didn’t think the WoD was a good idea, yet still didn’t favor legalization of pot because before you know it, the roads would be full of dope-heads that could’t be “controlled.”
            And it would lead to harder drugs.
            At the end of the day, if the Pigs can’t be convinced, how can liberty be restored?

            1. I ask this one question to everyone that thinks I’m a crank b/c I’m in favor of *all* drug legalization – “If legal tomorrow, would you go out and start shooting heroin?” They always answer “No, of course not”, Then I ask – who exactly do you think would? It’s always just some generic dodge of an answer. I don’t know many peopel that abstain only b/c it’s illegal and yes, if it’s cheaper and easier to get that would induce some people to do it that otherwise wouldn’t – but most people don’t drink and drive b/c it’s a bad idea and you can make bad driving practices against the law if they aren’t already. You could solve the driving problem anyway with an ammeded law that made people buy a bunch of soda and munchies when the bought their pot, that’s the only reason anyone stoned goes out anyway 😉

    4. you give them way to much credit.

  3. And 99% of those respondents will go to the polls and gleefully pull the lever for a candidate that will do nothing to stop the WoD, and who may even make it worse.

    1. Damn your utterly correct cynicism, JJ!

      By the way, are we still on for tonight? I got the amyl nitrate we talked about.

      1. amyl nitrate


        1. It’s never specified exactly what Frank is inhaling. YOU MORON.

          1. Bullshit. Dennis Hopper said as soon as he read the script he knew exactly what Frank was inhaling, and acted accordingly. If the guy doing the acting states it, that counts as canon.

            1. Exactly, Jimbo. If Epi won’t accept Dennis Hopper as an expert on drugs, who would he accept?

              1. MYSELF.

      2. I’m just utterly depressed that I missed that epic Trek thread earlier.

        I’m rewatching DS9 right now, and crying in futile desperation as I try to download that old game Birth of the Federation, only to get constant ms32.dll errors of various sorts.

        1. Are you running an x64 OS?

          1. Yep. I already downloaded a mss32.dll and put it in the system32 folder, and in the folder where the game is stored (I downloaded and unzipped it from a mirror site that just has a bunch of old games up for free).

            Now I’ve gotten to an error that’s something about a procedure point in the dynamic link library yada yada, frankly it sounds like a bunch of made-up Trek techno-bullshit.

            1. Try putting it in the syswow64 folder, which is where 32-bit dlls live. System32 is for 64-bit files. The path might be hard-coded into the game and it won’t work, but its worth a shot.

              Yes, it’s stupid as fuck.

              1. Thanks, I’ll give that a shot.

                1. I actually ended up installing Win7 32-bit on a spare laptop, just so I could play Homeworld2.

    2. I can think of no greater illustration of the difference between stated and revealed preference than the dissonance between what people say they want and who they vote for.

      1. Hmm. Legalize weed? Yes!

        Reelect Drug Warrior Obama? Yes!

        /Washington & Colorado voter

  4. I would have thought the percentage of morons was higher than 7.

  5. But how many of those 82% think we are losing because we just are not trying hard enough?

  6. “Only seven percent (7%) of American Adults think the United States is winning the war on drugs”

    In related news, Rasmussen estimated that 7% of Americans were experimenting with their “special mushrooms” at the time this poll was taken.

  7. “88 percent of respondents said they had not smoked marijuana in the last year”
    I’m calling bullshit.

    1. 88% of respondents did not remember smoking marijuana in the last year.

    2. You really think that many people smoke MJ?

      1. 100% of the people in my household and larger friend circle do, so, extrapolating that out, adjusting for variables such as age and occupation, I feel confident in stating that 103% of people on earth smoke weed at least monthly.

        1. 100% of the people in my household and larger friend circle have never touched it.

          1. Hmm. After much deliberation and examination of the various facts as presented, I can only conclude that you are wrong and I am right.

          2. Don’t feel bad: I always seem to reach that conclusion.

            1. It’s OK, I’ve reached the conclusion that you are wrong and I am right. I guess we’ll have to call it a draw.

              1. *shakes fist*

                Next time Sparky, next time.

                1. not to but into the argument, but I pulled out my graphics calculator to settles this dispute. I played tetris.

        2. 100% of the people in my household have either never tried it, or in a couple isolated cases, tried it once and never again…extrapolating out is not of much use.

    3. It’s possible when you remember that the people who answer these polls are those who still answer their land line to a “BLOCKED NUMBER” call.

      1. People still have land lines?

        1. I have 2.

          One, for when cell serviced tanks and the other for dial-up Internet access when the WiFi and my cable ISP collapse. I just tried using the dial-up connection a week or so ago. Works surprisingly well.

          1. Jebus, where do you live where your cell phone, WiFi and ISP go for sh2T? Maybe move into civilization, man.

  8. “only 10 per cent of respondents believe that the “War on Drugs”?a term that has been used to describe the efforts of the U.S. government to reduce the illegal drug trade?has been a success”

    Of course that is the 10% who’s making a buck on the deal.

    1. “My pay has gone up 400% in 10 years, where’s the failure in that?”

  9. Since federal spending never decreases, toward what single drug will the DEA most direct their interdiction and paramilitary zeal when mj is legalized in a majority of states?

    1. Prescription painkillers, just like now.

      1. College student abusing adderall. And bath salts.

        1. rubbish. bath salts will never achieve nearly enough popularity such that they will have much to direct against. it’s going to remain a niche drug. very few have tried them, and they are not going to become more popular.

          as somebody who is currently using prescription painkillers (opioids) post surgery, i agree with epi.

          on the streets we are seeing a move from script opioids to heroin. we’ve seen more heroin OD’s in the last 6 months than we saw int he previous 2 yrs. it’s a way cheaper high (heroin). they just have to get over the “needle” thing, which people are more and more willing to do, especially with the new OP formulations

          1. I thought heroin had gotten cheap enough that it was now widely available is a form pure enough to snort. That’s what I’ve seen in the news about the epidemic(TM) of heroin overdoses among teenagers in Chicagoland.

            1. we don’t see snortable heroin here in the Pac NW. it’s ALL tar

              i have never seen powder heroin in 20+ yrs.

              technically, one can put tar heroin into solution (like saline) and snort with nasal spray container, but that remains very unpopular.

              chicago has tons of powder heroin

              here in pac NW it’s all tar.

              but yea, heroin is reasonably bioavailable to snort.

          2. The needle thing is a big hurdle though. That’s the one thing that kept a lot of people from experimenting with it . outside of the ick factor and fear, it’s like the sure sign that you have a ‘problem’ in many people’s eyes, along the lines of blowing someone in a hotel room to pay for your habit. I’m actually really shocked to hear OD’s are up – i know more people that have used coke and pot than I could count, but can still count the # of people I’ve come across that used/use heroin (at least that I knew of) on one hand. The black tar thing vs powder is also really surprising – seems like anything you’d see in Chicago you’d see in PNW and vice versa. Do you think it’s just b/c the high level distribution is controlled by one group vs another, is it a taste or $ thing or what?

      2. ^this


    2. Whatever drug is used by the people who are easiest to harass, and yet have enough shit that’s worth stealing. It’s a simple enough two-variable optimization problem.

      1. Here you go Warty. Kitties. Enough to make you cry.


        1. The cat front row center in the first picture does not want to be held, thank you very much.

          1. The one on top of the metal thing from the USS Flusser is not happy either. But the kitten under the tank and the one being fed by the Marine will melt your soul.

            1. Nobody thinks of the kitties before they go to war.

                1. A young woman newly arrived in a small town comes up against a crazed group of survivalists who have killed a party of motorcyclists in the desert. They capture and rape her, but she escapes and makes plans to take her vengeance on them.

                  I Spit on Your Grave with a redneck militia? Sounds fucking awesome.

                  1. With a 1.8 rating on IMDB, I know it’s the type of film I’ll enjoy.

                2. From the description, it appears to be a spell-binding thriller…wonder why it only got 1.8 stars…hmmm

  10. How would one define “winning” the war on drugs?

    1. When all the drugs are dead.

      1. #WINNING

      2. So the war on murder, theft, and rape is also losing?

        1. No. Incidents of murder, theft and rape have been declining for decades. Drug use, and drug availability, have remained level or gone up. And worse drugs have become available, because they are easier to manufacture or distribute domestically.

          1. Cocaine use peaked in the 70s and 80s.
            Heroin use has been declining since the 1990s. Opium use peaked over 100 years ago, when people were even giving it to infants.

            1. and now we have meth…

              1. Better than meth, we have oxidado.

          2. exactly. one can also look at price, as a decent measure of scarcity (supply/demand).

            when i was in college 25 yrs ago, cocaine was $100 (in 1980’s dollars) a gram. around my parts, it runs about $80 a gram in 2012 dollars.

            that’s a FAILURE.

            1. Please do not feed the troll, especially the stupider ones.

              1. Is Lisa a troll?

                1. I thought she was a vegan Buddhist.

    2. When all private property has been confiscated in drug-related incidents?

    3. When human nature surrenders, of course.

    4. When Drugs steps up to the table, signs The Treaty, and promises never again to take up aggressive arms against their neighbors.

  11. We HAVE NOT LOST THIS WAR! Order an immediate counter attack by Fifth Panzer Armee, with Luftwaffe air cover, towards the Oder line.

    1. “Oder my dead body!”

      “If necessary.”

      1. Deutschland siegt an allen fronten!

  12. Btw, the “the war on drugs is bad, and we’re losing it!” argument is the political equivalent of “the food is terrible, and such small portions!”

    It never ceases to amaze me when otherwise rational people think this way.

    1. So you can’t complain that a cook is bad and stingy? If something fails on multiple levels, there is nothing irrational about pointing that out. Sorry to throw water on your super-clever cliche.

      1. If you don’t see anything irrational about wanting more of something you consider to be bad, then you’re probably not one of the “otherwise rational” people I was referring to.

        People don’t just use the argument for the “drug war”. They’ve used it for other, actual wars. It’s just dumb. A better tactic would be to acknowledge that legalizing drugs would increase the usage but to say that the right to ingest substances is more important than the trade-off of increasing the number of people that use the substance. That is at least honest.

        1. Indeed. The drug warriors should concede that legalizing will lead to increased drug use, regardless of the facts.

        2. Thomas Woods has argued that the War of 1812 was unnecessary, and that we shouldn’t have entered into it in the first place. Well, that may be, but, once the British burned Washington, purposefully losing the war was not analogous to wanting a larger portion of bad food.

        3. You don’t seem to understand what the word “Irrational” means. Like I said before you repeated your straw man, there is nothing irrational about finding fault with something on more than one level. The drug war is an abomination, and its very existence is an affront to human liberty, but if they are going to go ahead with it anyway, they should at least try to be successful at it. So, on a moral level, the drug war shouldn’t exist, but on a practical level, which has to be acknowledged since it does exist, they are not even achieving their stated goals. It is a failure on every level. Conflating that to mean “It sucks, but I want more of it” is, at best, dishonest, and at worst, Salon-esque idiocy.

        4. I just can’t get over how stupid your argument is. Every part of it is wrong. You stumble around trying to find an appropriate analogy, and you keep stepping on rakes. Reason does not want more of the drug war. They are saying that it is bad AND they want less of it.

  13. PJORourke has a great segment on the WOD in his Parliament of Whores. i like when he interviews the DEA bigwig “everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die”… i’d rather see an end to the WOD, but i get the point

  14. So 56% percent of Americans think that pot should be regulated like alcohol, and it’s something we need to carefully consider, taking baby steps and monitoring along the way.

    But 51% of the popular vote is an overwhelming mandate to proceed unchecked with a progressive agenda, fundamentally altering the nation’s health care infrastructure?

    1. Narrative uber alles.

    2. your stats are way off.

      there was never that much support for obamacare.

      it was passed in VIOLATION of the wishes of the public.

      thats the ugly truth of how USA is governed.

      1. Dude. Presidential election stats:

        Obama 51%

        It’s clear that obamacare never got that much support.

  15. Poll: 18 Percent of Americans are Stupid

    1. 18 Percent of Americans are Stupid

      Oops!! 81 Percent of Americans are Stupid FIFY

      1. Out of whose ass did you pull 81?

  16. What I would like to know is how mwny people, if asked, would say “America is wating its time and resources on the war on drugs”

  17. These polls always depress. The real numbers are just sickening.

    34 percent said that the U.S. spends too much on the drug war; 23 percent of respondents said we don’t spend enough; and 24 percent said drug war spending is “about right.

    Seriously, 47 percent are in favor of maintaining or increasing the WOD?

    God help us.

    1. Probably the same percentage who believe in Dog or remove their hats, place their hands over their hearts and solemnly observe the flag/anthem at sporting events.
      In other words: imbeciles.

    2. I see 47% and think “Wow that’s a 6% margin of victory for slowing the drug war. Let’s run on that in 2014!”

  18. Uh, they’re just now noticing that? SHEESH!!

  19. OT:
    WA state voters narrowly approve charter schools. For those of you who felt cheated out of some salty ham tears, there’s plenty in the comments…


    1. This is obviously not the way that the people actually wanted things to be.

      Mmmmm! Delicious!

  20. Again, wrong question. The WOD drug is not meant to be “won” anymore than the “war on terror” is meant to be won. You guys know this. And that’s trick to keeping Americans heads up their asses – get them asking and thinking about the wrong questions. Frankly, it’s starting to become irritating – the naive notion that the WOD is about ANYTHING other than enriching and empowering a select handful of people at the expense of the rest of us. It isn’t even about drugs. You know this, damn it, so stop joining in the chorus of idiots.

  21. 51 percent of respondents said alcohol is more dangerous than pot, while 24 percent said pot is more dangerous, and 24 percent aren’t sure.


    sounds about right, generally 1/4 of the population is stubbornly wrong about something.

  22. The 18% of people who think we’re winning the war on drugs are the same people who are guaranteed votes against both liberals and libertarians.

    The elderly.

  23. Considering the direct involvement she had with the war on drugs (“Just say no!”), I think it’s sort of unfair that Nancy Reagan doesn’t get called a dumb bitch in every war on drugs thread, like Michelle Obama does whenever she’s mentioned.

  24. Okay. Nancy Reagan’s a dumb bitch and so is her astrologer.

  25. You can’t win a war on your own population. Sooner or later, you run out of people to pay the taxes you need to be able to fund the war.

    This completely ignores legal problems, such as the definition of treason.

  26. The “drug war” as an existential imperative is a foolish idea.

  27. on a related note-
    New Post-
    The Trouble with Government Solutions and Laws of Good Intention:
    Why regulations and government programs are rarely the best options – and are often completely inappropriate options – for solving society’s problems.

  28. This is right because drugs are always available in all American cities.

  29. We lost the drug war long ago with our Constitution. America is nothing much more than a Third World Country any longer!

  30. very super blogos thanks admin sohbet & sohbet odalar?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.