New Poll: 3/4 of Americans Want Alternative Penalties for Marijuana -- So Why is the Gov't Still Leading a War on Pot?

Days after President Barack Obama defended his administration's war on state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs,  new data from an Angus Reid Public Opinion poll reveals that the majority U.S citizens favor alternative penalties for "non-violent offenders," especially when it comes to weed:

Majorities of respondents in the three countries (Britain 56%, Canada 68%, United States 74%) welcome the concept of using alternative penalties—such as fines, probation or community service—rather than prison for non-violent offenders. At least seven-in-ten Britons (70%), Americans (74%) and Canadians (78%) believe personal marijuana use should be dealt with through alternative penalties. Support for similar guidelines for credit card fraud, drunk driving and arson is decidedly lower.

The poll is only the latest evidence illustrating how far the government’s draconian marijuana laws (and the legislators who refuse to change them) have strayed from what the public actually wants.  In October, for example, a Gallup poll revealed for that, for the frist time ever, 50% of Americans favor full-blown marijuana legalization.

Despite a majority of Americans who want weed to be  legal -- or,  at the very least -- to ease punishment for marijuana smokers,  an astounding $42 billion in tax payers' cash is spent prosecuting marijuana crimes annually. That's because  46% of drug arrests are related to marijuana. What's worse is that, in 2010, 88% of of those marijuana arrests (and the vast majority of that cash spent) were for offenses involving possession only

The polls show that Americans clearly do not support this use of funds -- so why is the Obama Administration leading an assault on state-approved, medical marijuana dispensaries during an election year?

As Scott Morgan wrote on The Drug War Chronicle:

...I keep hearing people justifying Obama's medical marijuana crackdown on the grounds that voters will be impressed by his toughness. How much more evidence do we need that huge majorities support less punitive marijuana policies? It's time to bury the antiquated, idiotic myth that the public supports tough drug laws. It's false and it's been false for a very long time. 

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at April 27, 2012, 7:15am